Three Collaboration Tools Component Relations Pros Swear By

It’s hard work managing chapters across the country and around the world. Here are a few essentials component relations staffers rely on to stay organized and better manage their time.

Component relations can be a messy and complicated business, especially when your association is global and relies on a network of chapters to serve as your “boots-on-the-ground” operation worldwide.

To save time and stay organized, it helps to have technology on your side. Lucky for component relations professionals (CRPs) and other membership staffers, there are many low-cost or no-cost options out there.

In an ongoing Billhighway blog series, Marketing Leads Charlotte Muylaert and Sarah Garrity highlight several membership tools to streamline chapter data collection, design, and content efforts.

These ideas came from an October conversation held with chapter leaders at the Association Component Exchange Summit, where CRPs shared their favorite tools.

“What we found was that there was one key theme that emerged from all the recommendations,” Muylaert says. “CRPs stressed the importance of using tools to help ease communications, not just between national and chapters, but also between chapter leaders and members talking to new or potential members.”

Here are three ways component relations staff frequently use technology to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively:

Pulse surveys and forms. Many CRPs reported using mobile-friendly online forms to collect quick feedback and data from chapters and members. Platforms like Wufoo, Typeform, and JotForm are three free options. Each tool supplies users with several templates that can be tweaked and used within minutes. “What we noticed was that almost across the board associations and CRPs are using online forms to gather and collect instant feedback,” Muylaert says.

Of course, when deploying a pulse survey, time is of the essence. These online forms should only take respondents a few minutes to complete, Muylaert says, so be sure to user test and limit field choices to only a handful of options or questions.

Spreadsheet templates. Chapters still turn to Excel or Google spreadsheets to run and crunch the numbers. For instance, the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society uses a simplified spreadsheet template to track certain sets of activities, like chapter participation and member engagement rates. When designing a spreadsheet template to share with chapter leaders make sure it’s plug-and-play, Garrity says. “What’s most important in this case is the consistency and structure” of the data, she says. And if you’re looking for other ways to trick out a spreadsheet for templated or team-based work, be sure to read this Hubspot blog post for some “how-to” inspiration.

App automation. Since CRPs are generally people strapped for time, consider using or applying integration tools, like IFTTT or Zapier, which connect or sync several other apps together. Take, for instance, a chapter’s social media presence. Using IFTTT, it’s possible to connect your social media accounts (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) and automate postings, so that there’s one consistent message pushed to all channels at the same time.

What digital tools have you found to be a lifesaver when it comes to component and member relations? Post your tips and tricks in the comment feed below.

(aristotoo/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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