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StarChapter of June: PMI Oklahoma City

With a 6.5% membership growth in the last year, PMI Oklahoma City chapter is already preparing for the next big thing: celebrating the chapter’s 15th anniversary! We spoke with the board and learned their method of getting more members to volunteer. 

1. What was PMI Oklahoma City’s strategy for engaging new members in 2014?

The strategy used for engaging new members last year involved varied approaches and opportunities to promote the benefits of becoming a PMI OKC member. 2 key strategies were offering strong chapter meeting speakers and providing a forum for potential members to interact with our larger membership base. Our chapter also held many specialized events including networking opportunities, an inaugural fall golf tournament benefiting the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and a “high end” annual dinner meeting. The dinner provided additional opportunities for potential members to engage with current members and allowed them to discuss and see the value of our network, obtain information that could benefit their careers, and gain new project management knowledge. The fruits of these efforts showed a membership growth of 6.5% from the previous year.  

2. Can you tell me about a successful event/meeting that you organized in the past year?

Our chapter focused on increasing the value and prestige of each event. Our premier event was the Annual Dinner held in November. We chose an upscale venue, “Vast – 50th Floor” restaurant located at the top of Devon Tower in Oklahoma City for the event, which was held during evening hours and offered the potential to win significant door prizes. Our efforts to go bigger and better helped garner an increase in attendance of nearly 100% over the previous year. 

3. Can you share some secrets of running a successful chapter?

As volunteers, each board member brings a unique talent and perspective based on their individual experiences and backgrounds. We provide ample opportunity to weave those ideas and experiences into the services that the chapter provides. A few of the principles we follow are: providing excellent customer service to the membership, quickly addressing inquires and issues that arise, providing information routinely through varied avenues (email, web, social media, etc.), maintaining an organized and professional website presence, and most importantly, recruiting volunteers who are passionate about helping our community and membership base.

4. How do you get inspired in managing the chapter? Do you learn from other PMI chapters?

Mostly, inspiration comes from helping our members be successful and ensuring they are pleased with the value they get in being a part of PMI OKC. Learning, participating in conferences, and reaching out to other chapters is always an avenue to be pursued. PMI chapters, both large and small, have fined tuned aspects of their organization and are always willing to share. It has been a constant theme that the greater PMI community succeeds when each chapter succeeds. 

5. Do you have any tips to share with other volunteers? 

Stay engaged and positive! This is a good idea to “pace” yourself and manage your own expectations of your role. However, you can never forget that your membership is depending on you to perform a service and look out for their needs. 
Secondly, network with others in your membership to find potential volunteers. It's all about connecting the dots for people and filling a need. If you learn through conversation that a member is passionate about planning events, it is a good idea to quickly engage them and offer the opportunity to participate in event planning for the chapter or even chair a committee. The only way to learn about your membership is to engage on a personal level and be available during planned chapter events. Once you have connected the dots, offer opportunities to participate and directly ask for their help. We’ve found that all too often, members are more likely to volunteer when they are approached directly and are engaged in the conversation about the needs of the Chapter. Issuing general “call for volunteers” emails or communications rarely work as well.

6. What is in stored for PMI Oklahoma City members in 2015?

All eyes are focused on celebrating PMI OKC’s 15th year anniversary! We are honoring our members who have been with us from the beginning by posting each on our official website (front and center). The 15th year anniversary will culminate in celebrating our success at the historic and beautiful Skirvin Hotel in downtown OKC. Additional events planned for the year include a 2-day professional development conference, a summer social/networking event, and our 2nd Annual PMI OKC Fall Golf Tournament.  
Another venture for us will be to stream our regular chapter meetings online so that we can reach out to more of our members during their busy work schedule and hopefully attract new members as well.

7. How did StarChapter help you run the chapter and reach your goals?

As a smaller chapter within the PMI organization, our resources are limited. The StarChapter "system" meets our varied needs ranging from communicating with members, analyzing the membership data, planning and managing events, and robust financial reporting.  StarChapter provides many sophisticated tools in an all-inclusive package that helps us promote the growth, and ultimate success of our chapter. The service we get from the StarChapter Support team is outstanding and always timely. Our members are proud to promote our chapter website now, which wasn’t always the case! Thanks to StarChapter we were able to make PMIOKC.org a success.

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