Member-relations ambassador, anyone?

Written by Octavio Peralta on February 18, 2019

Serving and engaging with members is a natural role for associations. However, I have yet to encounter the job title “member relations ambassador” that exists in the association community here or abroad. That was, at least, until I went to Kuala Lumpur as part of the organizing team for our association’s annual CEO Forum held in the Malaysian capital.

The event gathered 250 delegates from 23 countries at the Intercontinental KL Hotel. The moment our team of three checked into the hotel, there was already this homey welcoming feeling as the doorman, the bell captain and the receptionist were all smiles and very helpful. It was quite eerie, too, though in a positive sense, when we had our late lunch at the hotel’s dining outlet, Serena. A “roving conversationalist” (as I referred to him since he was going around and chatting with other diners) approached our table and greeted me with my first name. He presented himself as simply Jason, who, with his amiable personality, told us that he’s the “man to call” if we needed something.

Dinner time came and we opted to eat at the same dining area - and as soon as we settled down, there was Jason, greeting us again.

The next morning at breakfast, I had a longer chat with Jason as I was curious about his job. He sat across my table and I saw the opportunity to interview him. He gave me his business card and I noticed his job title, “guest relations ambassador.” I probed more and found out that he’s 64 years old, no college degree, diabetic and with a high blood-pressure condition. And yet, he said, he sleeps only about four to five hours a day, has never been late at work, and does his “routine” day in, day out. I was truly impressed!

I told him I was an association executive, and that associations could surely learn from his experience. So I asked him what he could share with associations based on his work. He mentioned three things that are important in his job: passion, positive attitude and punctuality. Here’s how I thought the three attributes he told me relate to an association executive’s work:

  • Passion – putting more energy into something than is required. Passion is about fulfilling a mission with a whole heart, mind and soul. This is what keeps an association executive awake at night, thinking of what more can be done for the association and its members.
  • Positive attitude – I equate this to humaneness, characterized by tenderness, compassion, sympathy and respect for people. Associations are communities of people and, as such, require the association executive to give due consideration to the needs and aspirations of its members.
  • Punctuality – being able to complete a required task before or at a previously designated time. I would also relate punctuality to dedication—the quality of being committed to a task or purpose. Associations thrive and sustain themselves because of their purpose, i.e., advancing a cause or advocacy. Because of the nature of their job, association executives need to focus on mission-critical and timely services to members.

As member-serving organizations, associations can certainly learn from Jason’s worthy 3P’s and can emulate these traits in relating to their members. Considering a job title for your association? How about a member-relations ambassador?