The Power of New Blood

by May 23, 2017

Harborside Toastmasters chartered strong on March 30, 2010 with a base of 21 members and earned Select Distinguished within their first year.  A lunch-time club of business professionals, Harborside went on to higher heights, earning President’s Distinguished in 2012 and 2013.  This was followed by four years of steady decline in membership.

In 2016 I was appointed club coach to assist Harborside in boosting their membership from a low of 12 members. Working closely with Alex Mayo (Immediate Past President) and Tiffanie Rook (President), the club achieved Select Distinguished.  Below is an interview covering the wins and challenges we encountered.

Joanna: “Prior to 2016, how did low membership impact club morale?”

Alex: “Burnout was a constant. Having the same few members lead every meeting was draining and limited the quality of our meetings.  Guests attended our meetings and we begged them to return.”

Joanna: “How successful was that strategy?”

Alex: “Not very!  We were very pleased when Tiffanie came back.”

Joanna: “Besides begging, what marketing tools were used to entice new members?”

Alex: “We canvased local businesses to let them know about us.  After a year-long campaign, we had zero new members.”

Joanna: “Why do you think this happened?”

Alex: “Burnout impacted the impression our club had on guests.  Each month we had 2-3 visitors, but few returned.”

Joanna: “Tiffanie, you visited during this time.  What was the club atmosphere when you first joined?”

Tiffanie: “I felt out of place.  Everyone knew their part except for me.”

Joanna: “What brought you back?”

Tiffanie: “At first it was the timeframe and location of the club. It is within walking distance and I was able to attend during work hours with the support of my supervisor.”

Joanna: “Convenience brought you back, but what made you join?”

Tiffanie: “Learning the opportunities Toastmasters offers and being assigned a mentor helped me understand the core values and purpose of Toastmasters.  Alex was the Toastmaster for the first meeting I attended.  I thought every meeting would be like that.  When I returned, I saw how others filled roles and I became excited (yet anxious) to try it.  After filling my first role, I was complemented and encouraged to continue and grow.  I left excited to be part of something that would help me grow and where I could offer something in return.”

Joanna: “Alex, even though Harborside was struggling, it had strengths.  What pushed your club in a new direction?”

Alex: “Our members were committed to building a better club-even if that meant changing the way we did things.  As our club coach, you helped renew our focus on quality meetings and making sure our club was inviting for guests and members.  The improved club atmosphere was the most important change. In a very short time, we had guests return and become members.  There is power in having new blood.”

Joanna: “Tiffanie, you are part of Harborside’s new blood.  What final thoughts do you have about your club success?”

Tiffanie: “In the past six months we’ve had 8 strong, enthusiastic, energetic people join our club.  We encourage new members to participate in club roles soon after joining to keep an infectious sense of purpose.  Participation doesn’t feel like a chore, but a privilege.”