In my last post, I shared some thoughts on building healthy personal habits around participation in your local IAMCP chapter meetings, but thought I’d extend those ideas into creating a rhythm of the business around how the chapter orchestrates its meetings, as well. Keep in mind that people are taking time out of their busy schedules to attend and participate in these IAMCP activities – one of the primary goals of the chapter board should be to establish consistent practices for the chapter: when you meet, where you meet, the structure of meetings, frequency and content of communications, and a clear value proposition for members and member companies, as well as sponsors.

Some idea for setting up a rhythm from a chapter perspective:
  • Keep chapter meetings structured and predictable, so people know when, where, and how to engage. Don’t move the time or location around, but establish a strong baseline for meetings so that people can build their schedules around it. The meeting format should be consistent, so that people now how to get involved. The Seattle chapter has a simple outline that we try to repeat each month: introductions, partner-to-partner wins, chapter announcements, announcements from participating members, sponsor introductions, guest speakers, and networking.
  • At each meeting, publish an agenda and try to stick to it. Whether or not you follow Robert’s Rules of Order is up to you, but do your best to keep people on task and drive through the defined agenda. People will appreciate the organization—it will keep the focus on helping the group rather than letting any one topic or dominant player take the meeting off track.
  • Provide members with a roadmap of activities, a clear picture of what is coming. Having a roadmap will help with marketing, sure, but it also allows members to provide feedback on the topics they’d like to have covered—subject matter that will help them to better understand the Microsoft partner ecosystem and how to grow a business within it.
  • Have each committee (sponsors, marketing, web, etc.) represented at every board meeting, and keep a list of running action items and hold people accountable. Everyone is busy, so the best way to keep things moving forward and to build out your chapter is to make the process as transparent as possible. This includes publishing out agreed-upon tasks and action items—not just during board meetings, but at mid-month, as well. By including each committee in the monthly agenda, it serves as a gentle reminder and also encourages the sharing of ideas.
  • Board members and committee members should follow the personal rhythm recommendation outlined in my previous post – because if the people running the chapter aren’t following these best practices, new members will have a hard time following them. Lead by example.
To be honest, we’re finding it increasingly difficult to manage everything we need to do to establish our chapter and grow our membership by meeting as a board of directors just once a month. Our board meetings are currently held directly following our chapter meetings (and are always open to the general membership), and while the meetings are often full of great feedback and ideas, some of that momentum can get lost with a month until the next meeting. As a result, we are establishing a mid-month planning call so that we can make more progress on open action items. As with our regular, in-person board meetings, keeping these structured and on task will be critical. They may last 10 minutes, or they may go an entire hour, if needed. What we’re learning is that 45 minutes a month, which is what we’ve been doing to date, is too little time to accomplish everything.
I’d love to hear from other chapters on what they do to maintain the rhythm of their business. What are your best practices for organizing and running your board meetings and other committee activities?