This quote was made famous in the 1989 fantasy drama movie, Field of Dreams, where Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella [played by actor Kevin Costner] plowed his corn field to build a baseball diamond. Not to give away the plot of the movie [just in case you didn’t see it], but hundreds of cars approached the baseball field. This fulfilled a prophecy that “people will come to watch baseball”.
Similarly, associations tend to build a membership or sponsorship program in hopes to fulfill the prophecy that “they will come knocking” at our door. However, this is real-life, not Hollywood. There’s no certainty for a happy ending without a lot of building – relationships, that is.
Many professional and trade associations are volunteer-driven with little time available to cultivate and maintain relationships with members and sponsors for the good of the association. Certainly, volunteer leaders mix and mingle, and network and share with their peers. But there’s little time during their “day job” to develop and nurture long-lasting and trusting relationships.
That’s where Membership and Sponsorship Specialist, Sarah Meil, makes the difference. Sarah spends most of each month in “relationship-building mode”. In place of “selling” a membership or sponsorship, Sarah’s effort focuses on value and delivery.
Relationship building requires special skill-sets which are not common to all individuals. Sarah utilizes her background and experience as both Director of Operations for Towson University Softball and Bartender/Server for Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Specifically, customer service, patience [it’s a virtue!], personality, needs assessment and attentiveness.
Whether it is her energy or her interaction among and between members and sponsors, Sarah constantly strives to achieve a solid long-term mutually-beneficial relationship.
Yes, associations want and need both membership dues and sponsorship dollars to fulfill its mission. But, survival for the long-term requires good relationships.
Don’t just build “it”. Build a relationship.