When I was Journalism major in college, I had a professor named Dr. Salzberg. I was a pretty good student so after I graduated he remembered me and asked a friend how I was doing. She shared with me his comment, “Marianne is very talented but it’s too bad she’s so short. That will keep her from being successful.”
Sorry, Dr. Salzberg. I stand 5’1” tall and live in a small town of 9,200 people in Glenwood Springs, CO. But don’t let size fool you. I led our chamber for more than 30 years and during that time our community earned countless awards for the chamber, City and health and education institutions.
In the words of Yoda, “Size matters not. Look at me.”
Just because you’re small doesn’t mean that you can’t dream big. At Institute for Organization Management you learn tools for achieving excellence and relevance regardless of your size.
In this regard, political action courses are among my favorites in the Institute curriculum. Many small organizations struggle with political action and feel they are too small to get involved politically without repercussions. By taking baby steps you can position your chamber or association in this arena without making enemies.
Here are 10 easy, low risk ways to establish your organization as a political advocate for your members.
- Host unbiased, professionally-run candidate forums.
- Promote community workshops, open houses and events about upcoming projects and decisions.
- Host meetings to professionally present both sides of an upcoming issue.
- Republish information from your state or a larger association to report on recently introduced bills and laws that might affect your members.
- Utilize the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Get Out the Vote campaign tool kit.
- Get on the email list to receive City and County meeting agendas. Without takings sides you can highlight agenda items that affect your constituents and get the word out to your members in case they want to attend.
- Publish openings for City, County and State Commissions and encourage your members to apply.
- Establish a relationship with elected officials on the federal, state and local level and host Town Hall meetings when asked. For Congressional representatives, you will also then be able to make a call to their local office when you need help on an issue.
- While your organization might understandably shy away from endorsing candidates, issues are another matter. Work with your board on a policy for when and how the board can take a position on an issue. You will find great examples in resource libraries of your state, regional or national association.
- Host Leadership and/or Candidate Workshops for those aspiring to run for office and encourage political engagement from your Young Professionals organization.
I encourage you to tall as the voice of your business community with government. It’s one way to assure your will become an industry leader.