Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Association Matchmaking

I could point to trying to be distracted from my fear of flying, and Jet Blue having television sets; but there's no getting around the fact I watched 3 episodes (3 hours) of "Millionaire Matchmaker" in the last 2 days when there were 35 other channels on the flights. The show on Bravo features a professional matchmaker (pic) and her efforts to find a match for millionaires.

Revelations from the show could apply to association management:

1. Mini-date a good start. Often starts with mini-dates to best identify who to include on longer dates. Same is true with volunteer organizations. Might want to have someone serve on a work group, chair a committee, have a one year term in a key position before immediately giving them the long date -- i.e., a 2 or 3 year appointment, a Board of Directors position, right into officer position.

2. What they say they want, and what they really want are two different things. Men on the show seem to be very clear about what they want "I want a professional woman", "someone in her thirties", etc. but one mini-date later, not the case, "did I say professional woman, I meant professional model". Sometimes associations work on what they think the members want, when it might not be what they really want. When we use the statement, "we need to do what the members want", do we really find out what that is and did we give them something new to consider too?

3. Trust the matchmaker, at least try it. Sometimes the matchmaker has a gut feeling about a certain woman for a date. Often volunteers have a specific area of interest - government affairs, convention, contracts, etc. But staff or the officer may have a gut feeling they could be an interesting match to a different area. One of my best appointments was to a Mold Work Group - not exactly what I'd have envisioned, but someone else did.

4. Work on skills, instill confidence. Areas for social improvement are identified quickly by the matchmaker and she works hard on both their skills, and in building their confidence. Associations need to provide training for staff and for volunteers because knowing you have good skills, including social skills, helps many areas. When someone does a good job, tell them. They deserve to have their confidence built when job well done, or they need to get the right coaching to build the skill.

5. If you don't have the time to find you own match, pay someone to do it. Each of the millionaires has a tale of woe about why they can't or haven't found a match - so they pay someone neutral to help them figure it out. Paying someone to do it frequently a solution for associations too. And could be cheaper in the long run and or deliver a quicker result. And that applies to personal lives too (e.g., if you don't already have a house cleaner, consider it. )

6. They hate having rules, until the rules work, then they like them. The matchmaker has a big list of rules she insists on with her clients. And from the get-go people start complaining about it, "you're treating me like a kid", "WHAT?!", etc. But ultimately they find the reasons certain rules there because they've been tried and work. Members who "hate rules" may arrive and try to lead that way. And find chaos doesn't beget order or success. So they try order and it's a better date - figure out meetings run smoother, fewer potential problems, clearer understanding among everyone involved - and success.

7. When it's a bad date, there is no second date. The show actually tries really hard to make the bad date be a learning experience, but if it didn't work out there is no second date. Associations are notorious for not only allowing the bad date to have a second date -- but they may have a third, fourth, fifth and on and on date. If a Board member keeps others from wanting to serve in leadership position due to negative energy, or if a committee stays stagnant because the same people are reappointed because no one has the heart (or the nerve) to remove the bad dates from continuing into another year/term, then how will associations ever be able to find love - positive energy, forward momentum, innovation, new volunteers?

What would you try for love?

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