If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Networking With March Madness
Whether with staff or members, in the office or offsite, associations and other employers around the country are capitalizing on the fervor generated by the NCAA men’s basketball tournament by hosting networking and other events.
Ready or not, March Madness gets underway this week. College basketball’s annual marquee event, which runs through April 7, famously eats up paper supplies and network bandwidth and drains productivity in American workplaces.
But more and more employers are finding ways to let a little madness into the office and use it to their advantage.
“It’s more about the environment you create than any one thing you bring in,” said Grant Greenberg, manager of PR and communications for Regus North America, a building management company that will host game-watching events during the workday in their buildings throughout the country. “While people do intermingle throughout the day, and there’s water-cooler talk and so forth, let’s be honest: People oftentimes aren’t very social in the work atmosphere. But everyone has that common bond, people get excited about March Madness. We thought it was a perfect way to bring people together.”
The goal of Regus’ watching parties, aside from catching some of the action, is to offer the company’s tenants the opportunity to mingle and create business relationships, and to promote an open, flexible office culture.
“Those things are becoming more and more important today, and people value the ability to have some flexibility,” Greenberg said. “Employees appreciate that from their companies and where they work.”
Associations Get in the Game
Meanwhile, associations are getting in on the action, bringing their members together to enjoy the tournament, expand their own professional networks, and serve their communities.
The Indiana Land Title Association’s young title professionals committee, for example, will host its third annual March Madness networking event this week.
“We do about four to five events per year, one of which is this March Madness event,” said Jennifer Wallander, cochair of the committee. “It’s definitely a great conduit for everybody to get together and have some fun while networking. And it’s easier for people to be comfortable and open in that kind of environment, where there’s a shared passion for the games as well as the profession.”
Networking isn’t the only way associations capture March Madness excitement. Some groups find unique ways to support local nonprofits, while others collaborate to raise funds for a particular cause.
Then there’s the Atlanta Bar Association, which is encouraging members to offer pro bono legal services during the tournament. “Help a person in need, support a local pro bono legal services organization, and do good for yourself,” the association tells members on its website. “Your training, experience, and willingness to help can provide equal access to justice for someone to whom it might otherwise be denied.”
How does your association engage staff or members during the NCAA tournament? Share your story in the comments.