Chapters: The Cornerstone of our Success

This past month I was pleased to attend my local chapter meeting (The Southern Connecticut Chapter) to help swear in the 2014 officers. It was deeply rewarding to witness these next generation ASIS volunteers take the reins and prepare to meet the challenges ahead. Our 234 chapters are instrumental to our success. It's at the local level, at the chapter meetings across the globe, where much of the hands-on work gets done. It's here where many now-established ASIS leaders and initiatives got their start. For example, the Young Professionals and Women in Security groups took hold at the Chapter level and it’s where the ASIS mentorship program is being piloted.

Monthly chapter meetings provide valuable opportunities to connect with peers in both the public and private sector and keep updated on local and regional challenges. This was brought home to me a few weeks ago in Houston when I attended a chapter luncheon of public and private sector security professionals– sharing ideas, business cards, and plenty of laughs. It’s easy to see why the Houston Chapter won the Matthew Simeone Public/Private Partnership Award – the camaraderie and sense of shared purpose with their law enforcement counterparts was evident to all.

I believe sharing and collaboration are cornerstones to success. We have many chapters that are thriving and executing terrific local programming as well as chapters that need to be kick-started. It all starts with motivated members – professionals willing to step up and take charge.  Following are some suggestions to help volunteer leaders, as well as members looking to get involved, foster greater participation at the local level.

Maximize available resources

  • Apply for and build awareness of ASIS Foundation awards and scholarships. The Foundation is currently accepting applications for six full-tuition scholarships to the University of Phoenix. These are career – and potentially life changing – opportunities. Be sure to visit the Foundation website and note award and scholarship deadlines and share this information with your members.
  • Take advantage of the ASIS Career Center. As the industry’s best source for security management jobs, the Career Center also offers significant savings on resume writing services, coaching, and free career advice from executive recruiter Kathy Lavinder. Chapters can link directly to Kathy’s columns and run an RSS feed to their websites so members can easily learn about career opportunities. 
  • Signup for the ASIS webinar subscription series. For $99 your chapter can have access to all of this year’s webinars. If you can’t attend in real time, use the archived version as the basis for your monthly meeting discussion.
  • Jazz up your website or monthly chapter emails through ASIS video and photos. ASIS has an inventory of videos on www.youtube.com/ASISInternational that can be embedded on your chapter site, linked to from emails, and played before chapter meetings. From certification stories to chapter involvement and conference highlights, there are dozens to choose from. For photos, visit www.flickr.com/asisinternational and download any of the thousands of high-resolution images.

Welcome and engage all members

All members should be made to feel welcome at Chapter events and pathways for engagement should exist to harness the enthusiasm of volunteers. Whether you introduce yourself to help make new individuals feel welcome at chapter meetings or volunteer to serve as a mentor, we all can help engage and develop future ASIS volunteers.

Some examples include

  • Set up a “buddy” system where seasoned members are paired with new members to foster relationship building, mentoring opportunities, and greater attendance at local events.
  • Encourage maximum member involvement. Has your chapter filled the Young Professional and Women in Security Chapter Liaison position? What about newsletter editor? Do you have a social media coordinator? Are all your committee positions filled? Get the doers involved!

Develop an “educational editorial calendar”

  • Relevant, timely, and useful education is the primary driver for attendance at chapter meetings. Fusion Centers, local FBI offices, postal inspectors, police liaisons, HR executives—all are excellent sources for speakers.
  • Create a calendar of proposed topics and assign them to members. Contact ASIS or use the member directory to reach out to Council members. With 29 industry sectors covered, there’s no shortage of experts that can help flesh out a potential topic or help find a speaker.
  • Run out of ideas for content? Ask your peers for suggestions! Join the ASIS LinkedIn Group. There are also a range of subgroups if you need to find speakers or content in niche areas.

Encourage professionalism

  • One of the best things a chapter can offer its members is to support informal and formal certification reviews. For many, the support of peers gets them successfully across the finish line. Chapters that foster these reviews often engender greater loyalty and engaged members.

These are just a few ideas to help get you started. We welcome your feedback – what’s worked at your chapter, how you communicate programming to the local community, what topics drive the greatest amount of member engagement. Share your stories so others can benefit from your experience. We look forward to hearing from you.