Article contributed by Ashton Ballard of the Lincoln Heritage Council.

One of the most important characteristics a district executive can possess is the ability to build and maintain strong relationships.  With every hand we shake, every conversation we have, and every connection we make, lies an opportunity to improve and cultivate the Scouting program. The communities that we serve are full of people, who, given the opportunity, would love to volunteer their time, talent or resources towards the betterment of our programs. As district executives, it’s our job, not only to make these connections, but to maintain them.  Here are some helpful tips for making connections and cultivating relationships in your community:

Making the Connection

  • Visibility is important. When you’re out in public, wearing the Scouting uniform, Scouting polos, t-shirts, even a nametag with the Scouting logo, can spark conversation and interest. You will encounter people who want to know more about what you do or who want to tell you about their personal experience with Scouting. Listen and be prepared to connect them with opportunities to get involved.
  • Join a civic club. Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs are great ways to build connections. These clubs are packed full of influential and motivated community leaders. Once you’re in, GET INVOLVED. It’s important for people to see that you care about the community. The more time you spend attending meetings and volunteering, the more time you have to get to know your fellow club members, gauge their interests, and get them involved.
  • Attend community events. Better yet, don’t just attend them, ask how you can get involved.  Look in to upcoming events and find out if there is a way to set up an informational booth about local Scouting programs. The more that people see you are willing to be active and support the community, the more likely they are to take an interest in what you do and want to become involved.
  • Take time to get to know them and help them volunteer where they feel most passionate. While we often have a need or goal to fill certain volunteer roles, it is important to remember that volunteers are most productive where they are most passionate. Take time to learn about the persons skills, hobbies and interests and offer them roles that best fit their passion.

Maintaining the Relationship

  • Send snail-mail. While texts and emails may consume less time, nothing says you care more than a hand-written note. Write thank you cards regularly. Keep up with birthdays, other holidays or special milestones and send a card or letter to let people know you care about what is going on in their life.
  • Communicate regularly, not just when there is a need. If you always approach someone with your hand out, over time, they become less likely to help because the relationship feels one-sided. Make the effort to call volunteers just to check-in, catch up and see how things are going.
  • Ask how you can help them. Getting involved in things your volunteers or potential volunteers care about, can go a long way. Whether it’s a play, a street fair, or volunteering with the local soup kitchen, be there to show your support and let them know you’re happy to help them out in any way you can. Remember, relationships are two-sided.

Scouting Wire would like to thank Ashton for submitting this article.

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