Episode 19 – Successful Clubs – Connection

Your Sports Resource

This is the final in four-part series on Characteristics of Successful Clubs. Connection is the last litmus test of how successful your club is. How engaged are your members, volunteers, and staff? Do you build strong relationships or just hope they happen. Listen for what things you can do to build the connection factor in your club.

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Introduction 00:00:00 

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast. Where each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in Youth Sports Leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello everyone and welcome to the Your Sports Resource Podcast. My name is Renata Porter and I’m happy that you are here with us.


Today, we are going to finish up our four-part series on what makes a Successful Club. So, we’ve talked about strategy, performance, and talent and today we will end the four-part series talking about connection.


Now, if you’re just jumping into the series here everything that we have discussed is coming from an operational or how to run and lead your business perspective. It is not about how to coach, however, how you develop your coaches does fall into these episodes.


So, if this is your first one, I would encourage you to go back and listen to the other three. These podcasts are all short-form, so quick and to the point, you’ll be able to catch up in no time.


For me, how we group connects reflects on how strong their culture is. Every organization will have outliers, but you can always tell if a culture is strong, if it’s weak or if it’s developing even by observing how people interact with each other.


I believe I’ve said this probably many times before, but clubs aren’t usually completely honest with me when they bring me on and I understand, I understand why they, you know don’t want to seem or come across.


At least at first, in a really negative light to scare me away even though you know, I’ve probably seen it all. But you know, when I get in front of them for our first working session, it’s, it’s usually very visible to me that you know, something is going on there’s more to the picture and the deeper we go into our time together then I can kind of see whose relationships aren’t working and who’s are.


Uhm, I think one of the reasons why I’ve been so successful throughout my career is being able to read and understand what is not being said. But at any rate, how a team connects and makes it a priority is the final area that will set you apart and put you on the path to being successful.


So, if you haven’t been following the series what I’m about to go over is from a worksheet. I’ve got it on the website www.yoursportsresource.com and it’s called Characteristics of Successful Clubs, it’s under tools.


So, if you’re able to look at that in each area, it allows you to rate how well you’re doing. So, no club or organization is doing everything perfectly on all fronts but it’s a great tool to help you understand, where you should be focusing and allows you to prioritize where you feel like your gaps are.


Often if you get your strategy performance and then your talent to work through, your culture or your connection really should fall into place but let’s look at it anyhow.


OK, so we have five parts to connection and the first one is having a strong and welcoming culture for members and volunteers, and this is more than just you know, saying hi and being friendly, OK.


Let’s use, let’s use Onboarding. The onboarding process for members as an example. Is your process easy or is it complicated or worse? Do you just leave the new member on their own to figure things out what the next steps are, where they’re supposed to show up? You know that kind of thing?


You should have an easy process from signing the first registration to getting them all the forms that they need, to sending them the schedule, telling them about their coach, the committees of service that they can be a part of, or how they can volunteer, or if there’s volunteer requirements.


What the meet structure, the fees, all that kind of stuff really should just be very much streamlined. So, when someone comes on board, it’s very easy for them to get an understanding and grasp what’s expected of?


Now you might feel this falls under processes but think about how it makes you feel when you have to jump through hoops to get things done, or when someone has taken your money but then it’s kind of radio silence on what the next steps are, right? So, think about that process and how it makes you feel about that organization, right?


You want your new members to feel like you’re on top of it, and that they are very much welcomed in a part of a great organization, right? The same goes for any volunteers in your staff, same thing. So open honest and provide as much detail as possible and maybe even assign them, someone, to look out after them for the first month.


I have a swim team. One of my clients that has put that piece into practice for new families. So, once a new family comes on board their assigned another family and their role is to check in on them, make sure they don’t have any lingering questions or concerns and you know, kind of things like they would feel silly asking, but you know our friend of mine.


So, when they get assigned to family they really feel like, you know, they’ve got a connection there, they got someone that they can go to, and I think it’s a great idea.


All right, the second area under connection is that Members and the Community actively assist in achieving club goals. This is a hard one because you’re always going to have those members or families or parents, whatever you want to call them that treat your club like a babysitting opportunity.


There’s nothing you can do about those people. The point that I’m trying to make here is that by and large you have members who step up and volunteer because they see and understand the value, they can offer the club and they know the value the club offers the child right?


And so, in order to be successful, they want to be part of it. But you know, here’s the thing, you won’t get those people if you don’t assist them and celebrate them. So, you don’t leave them floundering, you give them what they need to be successful.


That might be instructions, checklist processes, or just to help remove roadblocks, right? And then, openly celebrate your volunteers.


You really cannot do this enough, OK. Before every event, thank your volunteers in every article, any public speaking, whenever and wherever, you need to be thanking your volunteers, and that just kind of really pulse them in.


So, the litmus test of your connection for this part is that you have members that actively assist in achieving your goals.


Now number three, is that your organization has a positive reputation within the community and strong relationships with key stakeholders.


And I really want you to take a second and make sure that this is not a perceived notion because a lot of times people just make assumptions that they have great relationships when they’re really not doing anything to make sure that they actually do have really strong relationships and ties in the community.


So, this is for you to take an honest look at your organization. Do you have a relationship with the city or town officials? Do they talk about you to others like, do they promote you in the community? Do businesses and schools seek you out?


OK, this says a lot about how you invest in your relationships. If you build relationships actively and make them a positive two-way street, so not always about you and what you want for your club right? Then your reputation builds in the community.


So, do you nurture that relationship, or do you take advantage? I think the other thing that I think is very important as far as building relationships, you know is from a stakeholder perspective, you know, a lot of teams have close ties with schools, or they have close ties with the city or the town.


And what’s important about that is, you know things can change. So, if you’re renting a field space, you want to be, have a close enough relationship that they feel obligated to come tell you that, hey problems are coming down the pike and you may lose this field or heck, maybe the city put something through that they need to do work on the fields.


You don’t want to be notified a week before. You want to be notified several months before, right? So, building that relationship ensures that people feel tied to you and connected to you in a way that they want to inform you they want to pull you in, and they want to recommend you to others.


I have a client that I guess in less than a year has really, completely, culturally turned around their team. And it was because of one person that was doing a lot of damage with the membership in the community.


This person yelled at school officials, staff members, they argued with whomever they felt threatened by. They now, this organization now has an amazing relationship with their school to the point that the neighboring schools are starting to contact them and ask to participate with them.


The families are happy and engaged and they comment all the time about how nice and easy things are. Now, this is just one tiny example of how building those strong relationships and removing roadblocks can turn a club around.


But that leadership stepped up and they rallied to work on building those relationships to make it happen. They humbled themselves pretty much, and they went to work immediately and reap the benefits.


So really, think about how you work to build those relationships with your stakeholders and your community.


The 4th area to gauge how you’re doing with regards to connection is, do you have an up-to-date website? And are you consistently communicating via other means? So, whether that’s emails, whether that’s text, whatever your club chooses to do to communicate on a regular basis.


Now, this seems like common sense, but as you know, common sense doesn’t always equal common practice. Your website should be the one source of truth, where members can go and get up-to-date schedules and information.


So, if they’re constantly calling in and ringing in or emailing and saying you know, I don’t know where XYZ is. That’s usually because either one, they’re lazy, OK, which might be the case or two, they don’t trust the information that’s on the website because maybe sometimes it’s up to date and maybe sometimes it’s not.


If you get consistent about making sure that your website is your one source of truth, you can consistently push people back to that website to get the information and stop the noise.


Second, consistent communication is key for pulling people in and reducing noise. Noise happens when people feel like, they’ve gone too long with dead air with no answers, no responses, they don’t know what’s happening, OK.


So, your lack of communication has caused them to fill that dead space with their assumptions. And for whatever reason, human nature is to go to the negative when they make assumptions. I don’t know why that is, it drives me insane, but it is, it is what it is, right?


Here’s the thing about consistent information. No one says you have to write a book. Be clear, be concise, get to the point, and do it regularly.


That way, your parents know info is coming and that you aren’t going to waste their time by trying to sort through a rendition of war and peace just to tell them that practices canceled on Thursday.


If you are consistent in your messaging and your messaging is short and to the point and concise, you will go a very long way to having a well-informed set of membership and volunteers and they feel connected cause they know they can go to the website they know that you’re going to give them information.


Quite frankly, I know this was a number four, but I feel like in connection. This should be number one, this is easy. This is an easy do.


Alright, I want to stop for a second and talk to you about our Managed Virtual Services. As I’ve been working more and more with clubs, I keep getting asked, hey, do you know someone that can make a logo?


I need help with newsletters. Do you have someone that can write this report can pull these numbers together? We want to send out a parent survey.


Whatever it is, I constantly was getting asked. So, I decided to launch a program work called Manage Virtual Services. And what this does is, it allows you to not have to hire somebody and find them work all the time or try to find someone who’s going to do these little bits and pieces of work.


You’ve got us, you can come to us, and we’ll do this work for you and the bulk of our work is at $15 dollars an hour and you can be done. We work with one-off projects, weekly, monthly or long-term pieces of work. It’s completely up to you, we will work around what you need.


You can find out more at http://www.yoursportsresource.com/virtualservices or just go to Virtual Services when you get there and there’s an online form you can fill out and get going immediately.


Alright, let’s jump into the last area to evaluate regarding your connection for your club. And that is if your communications engage past, present, and future audiences.


So, are you cultivating your past members and I know you’ve heard me say this over and over again, right? They should be on a very specific email list and one that you sent an update to at least quarterly a targeted email quarterly to your past members.


The reason for this is these guys, these men, and women they understand your organization and now they’ve gone on and grown up and built their own skills that you may be able to utilize, and they have their own connections, they have their own network that you may be able to benefit from.


They are a wealth of resources, so if you are not cultivating this list and making sure that you’re in front of them at least quarterly, you are really losing out.


So, what does future audiences mean? Now, this can include ensuring that you look for opportunities to get your good works and successes out in the community.


So, whether that’s through social media, whether that’s you know, old school, local papers, school newsletters, wherever it doesn’t matter. Wherever you could talk about your team and you’re absolutely stellar volunteers that you are so appreciative of.


If you get in front of people often enough then they start to say, Dang, I really want my kid to be part of that. You get kids that are noticing other kids that are in the paper all the time or they see great pictures on social media and they’re having a good time.


It pulls them in, it pulls that connection, and they want to be part of it, so that’s your future. So, you’re cultivating your past members and you’re starting to build on pulling in your future members.


Think of it, as you know, really a marketing opportunity your past members can be huge and volunteering and fundraising, but your future members can actually help grow your club by leaps and bounds.


All right, so these are the five areas for connection. And they can truly put you in a position, to build a positive engaged, and really a proactive culture. A culture that most teams really only dream about achieving.


So please, go to the website and get your copy of this tool. Start rating your club on how you’re doing in the areas of strategy, performance, talent, and connection.


Again, this isn’t to make you feel bad, it’s just to help you prioritize and give you a pathway on where to start, where your gaps are, how to get going?


And if you have any questions, feel free to write at info@yoursportsresource.com and we will respond immediately.


OK, thank you for listening and please subscribe rate and review this podcast so we can get more visibility and bring our message to other clubs just like yours.


Thank you for spending time with me.