30+ Ideas for SHRM Chapter Leaders

Ideas for SHRM chapter leadersThese ideas for SHRM chapter leaders are a part of the SHRM Chapter Leadership Guide.

I often hear from other HR pros who are members of a local SHRM chapter that stinks. Depending on your chapter leadership, you could be having an amazing experience or a horrible one. Whichever you may be in, it wouldn’t hurt to pass this link on to someone at your local chapter. And if you are in a leadership position, explore the list. I don’t have all the answers (admitting that up front!), but I do love coming up with ideas that could really be beneficial for the average HR professional.

Here are a few ideas to make things more interesting and engaging for your members.

  1. Want to convert more website visitors into members? Use a video on your sales page.
  2. Don’t have an amazing website? Get one.
  3. Make new members feel welcome. Create a simple one minute welcome video telling people that you appreciate them joining the team and share it immediately after they join.
  4. Create an onboarding program. Your company probably has one, so why not a SHRM chapter? It’s all about setting expectations from the very beginning, and establishing a set method for assimilating new members into the chapter is a good way to do that.
  5. Reach out in multiple ways. Facebook pages and/or LinkedIn groups take a few minutes to set up and can be updated as frequently or infrequently as you like. Offer people multiple ways to connect and don’t force your own communication preferences on your members. Email blasts work, but they don’t allow for bidirectional communication. You’re missing out if email is your only communication medium.
  6. Offer multiple volunteer opportunities and offer them multiple times. Let people help in areas they are geared toward, and make sure you make it known how to get involved as a volunteer if/when someone changes their mind.
  7. Offer free events. Contrary to popular belief, HR pros don’t make as much money as doctors, lawyers, and actors. Offering high value free events is a great way to pull people in before it’s time for a paid event.
  8. Archive everything. Every event you can record is an opportunity to market the chapter, increase revenues, or just keep up that nostalgic buzz HR people seem to love so much.
  9. Send a newsletter. Yes, it can be via email, but it doesn’t have to be a list of announcements. Make it worthwhile. It should read like a blog post, not a press release.
  10. Start a blog. We did, and it’s generated some great intra-chapter conversations. If you need help with this one, just let me know and I’ll get you up and running.
  11. Share blog posts with your people. I mentioned how to do this in another post on how to get more out of your SHRM chapter membership.
  12. Create a welcome kit. It can contain links to: the video in #3, the blog in #11, or the content in #14.
  13. Create unique content that is only available to members. Anyone can attend a chapter seminar/meeting/function if they pay. Let’s give our paying members something extra, huh? Record a pre-event interview with the speaker and share the link only with members. There are dozens of ideas for this one!
  14. Offer extra networking time. That’s a big reason people join these chapters, and the meetings are often crammed into busy schedules. Give people more time to just chat.
  15. Create multiple survey points for adjustments. Survey your new members on what they want. Survey your current members on how you’re doing. Survey people who are leaving on what made them go. Get some data and use it.
  16. Offer smaller events. Yes, it seems counterintuitive, but the smaller the event, the more people participate. You never know how much that short dude in the back of the room really knows until you stick him in a round table discussion and let him participate.
  17. Develop collaborative projects and case studies from (and for) members. Make that networking in #15 really work for people. Give them ideas for projects to work together on and let them create things that could benefit the whole chapter.
  18. Pair with nearby chapters and offer large events. Find one of those big name people and bring him/her in. Share the cost with another chapter so it doesn’t cut into finances so much.
  19. Bring in new blood (voluntarily). Please don’t let your volunteer pool stagnate. If you have the same ten people volunteering day in and day out, you’re going to kill your volunteers.
  20. (Don’t) kill your volunteers. Make it very simple and easy to connect if someone shows an interest in volunteering, and let them go where their strengths lie if there’s any possible room.
  21. This is waaaay too formalHave an informal voice too. You can talk in the uber-formal voice that is expected of a SHRM affiliate without always being a stick in the mud. Have some fun with your members! This profession is too serious not to laugh often. Like this picture for instance. Rejoice and be glad that your SHRM chapter meetings don’t look like that!
  22. Pair student chapter members with professional chapter members as an informal mentoring gig. It’s a great way to lead the student members into a professional membership later on, and it gives value to both parties.
  23. Get a website that doesn’t make your eyes bleed. Yes, you may have one already, but if it has a bounce rate above 80% then you’re doing something wrong. See #2 for more info.
  24. Do webinars (free!). Using something like Dim Dim‘s free service to create small webinars for your people. You can even use it to test drive a speaker or topic. If it rocks, then you may want a full chapter meeting on the topic!
  25. Make an effort to be more diverse. We hear about diversity often, but this time I’m pushing my own darn self interests (wink wink). How many of your volunteers are under 25? We are going to be the next generation of HR directors and VPs. Spending time working alongside the other more experienced superstars in the chapter is a great professional development opportunity for us.
  26. Make people who aren’t even local want to join. This sounds strange, but there’s a chapter around where I live that gets people to events that are not local at all. Some of them drive 2+ hours for events there, because they’re that good. Strive to be that kind of chapter!
  27. Find out why people join. Do more of that.
  28. Find out why they leave. Do less of that.
  29. Find out why they stay. Keep that up.
  30. Get member generated content via contests. If you do go the blog route, keeping up a steady flow of content can be tough at times. Why not get others to do it for you? Get a sponsor to donate something (books are great) and offer it in a contest to a person who writes a comment on a post. Maybe you could ask how to handle a sticky issue or something similar that is sure to get a lot of responses…
  31. Figure out what works for you. There’s nothing wrong with ideas. They’re free, and they are abundant. It’s the actual doing something that is the hard part. Sift through the ideas, find a few that make sense for your chapter, and give ’em a shot!

Learn more about the SHRM Chapter Leadership Guide.

Anything you’d like to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

9 thoughts on “30+ Ideas for SHRM Chapter Leaders

  1. Jennifer McClure

    As a member of a large (and somewhat stagnant) SHRM chapter, these ideas are needed badly! I think that many in chapter leadership positions are interested in trying some new things, but have no idea where to start. You’ve done a great job of putting together a fantastic list of ideas and resources to get them started. Thanks so much!

  2. jkjhr

    Ben, I am sharing this with chapter leaders in Illinois. You have some great ideas. We need to talk.

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  4. Ben Post author

    @Mike Me, too, but I’m sure there are better ideas than these that people can shoot for as well!

    @Jennifer I really appreciate your comment and completely agree. Many chapters just don’t know where to start. If you want to pass along my email to someone, feel free. I’ve talked with a handful of chapters already about ways to… Um, not suck. ;-)

    @Robin Thank you, ma’am. Lots of brain-twisting time on my hands. :-)

    @John Share away! I’d love to hear about how an implementation influences a chapter’s success in your neck of the woods.

    @RMS Let me know if anything actually happens. :-)

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  6. Carla

    Splendid suggestions, Ben; especially the one regarding the on-boarding program. Our chapter already has that in place; I believe it will benefit me with our certification committee. Thank you!

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