I am writing to share some of your Board’s thinking and solicit for your input following a Board discussion prompted by recent comments from some of our Peer Growth guest attendees.
ACG Portland is special and unique when compared to other professional networking groups in the community. Our members are by invitation only and their consistent professional behavior is inherent in our chapter’s culture. Our networking events are focused on establishing relationships and learning. This cultural characteristic mirrors the behavior of professional business leaders and in turn makes ACG a wonderful place to hone your leadership skills – by volunteering, by networking and by including your colleagues as guests. In other words your participation is literally what fosters our growth and allows us to have the greatest impact in the community.
In light of this culture it was surprising when several recent Peer Growth guests commented that they felt ‘pressured’ to join as our chapter has adopted behavioral standards for members and sponsors to insure we maintain a predictable environment within which we can build meaningful, productive relationships with likeminded individuals.
Please consider this a gentle reminder and request for comments about our standards. We ask members and sponsors to consider these key principles in order to insure that we sustain our unique culture as we evolve. None of these will surprise you as they comprise the foundation that makes ACG the premier “go to” networking organization for Portland business leaders.
The solicitation of new members and sponsors should be conducted with sensitivity. While naturally eager to recruit attractive qualified new members, please remember to be respectful. We should not be selling our organization but articulating the benefits of ACG. Offer your availability to address any future questions they may have. Let’s have ACG be perceived as professional rather than “overzealous”.
Please review our senior leadership criteria and attempt to invite potential guests who meet our criteria and are willing to contribute. The primary source of new ACG members is our existing membership and the success of our volunteer organization is 100% dependent upon membership active involvement. Thus, it is important that you attempt to vet your potential guests/member willingness to contribute to our committees.
When meeting a new attendee at an event business card exchanges are appropriate. However, proactive business solicitation is counter-productive to our goals and expectations of our members. The environment of chapter events is intended to be a clear differentiator of ACG by providing a “non-threatening” venue for open and constructive business conversation while establishing new relationships rather than selling.
Thank you for taking the time to consider the standards that have made ACG Portland an institution for serious minded business leaders. Please feel free to contact me or any of our Board members if you have inputs regarding these standards.