SERVING and engaging with members is a natural role for associations. However, I have yet to encounter the job title “member relations ambassador” that exists in the association community here or abroad. That was before last week when I was in Kuala Lumpur as part of the organizing team of our association’s annual CEO Forum held in the Malaysian capital.
The event gathered 250 delegates from 23 countries at the Intercontinental KL Hotel. The moment our team of three checked into the hotel, there was already this homey welcoming feeling as the doorman, the bell captain and the receptionist were all smiles and very helpful. It was quite eerie, too, though in a positive sense, when we had our late lunch at the hotel’s dining outlet, Serena. A “roving conversationalist” (as I referred to him since he was going around and chatting with other diners) approached our table and greeted me with my first name. He presented himself as simply Jason, who, with his amiable personality, told us that he’s the “man to call” if we needed something.
Dinner time came and we opted for a light meal at the same dining area and as soon as we settled down, there was Jason, greeting us again.
The next morning at breakfast, I had a longer chat with Jason as I was curious about his job. He sat across my table and I saw the opportunity to interview him. He gave me his business card and I noticed his job title, “guest relations ambassador.” I probed more and found out that he’s 64 years old, no college degree, diabetic and with a high blood-pressure condition. And yet, he said, he sleeps only about four to five hours a day, never been late at work, and does his “routine” day in, day out. I was truly impressed!
I told him I am an association executive and associations can learn from his experience. So I asked him what he can share with associations based on his work. He mentioned three things that are important in his job: passion, positive attitude and punctuality. Here’s how I thought the three attributes he told me relate to an association executive’s work:
• Passion—putting more energy into something than is required. Passion is about fulfilling a mission with a whole heart, mind and soul. This is what keeps an association executive awake at night, thinking of what more can be done for the association and its members.
• Positive attitude—I equate this to humaneness, characterized by tenderness, compassion, sympathy and respect for people. Associations are communities of people and, as such, requires the association executive to give due consideration to the needs and aspirations of its members.
• Punctuality—being able to complete a required task before or at a previously designated time. I would also relate punctuality to dedication—the quality of being committed to a task or purpose. Associations thrive and sustain themselves because of their purpose, i.e., advancing a cause or advocacy. Because of the nature of their job, association executives need to focus on mission-critical and timely services to members.
As member-serving organizations, associations can certainly learn from Jason’s worthy 3P’s and can emulate these traits in relating to their members. Considering a job title for your association? How about a member-relations ambassador?
The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific and the CEO and founder of the PCAAE. The PCAAE is holding the Associations Summit 5 and the “Ang Susi” Awards 2017 on November 22 and 23 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
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