Building One-on-One Relationships with Members
[Intro] Welcome to chats with chambers with your hosts Patrick Kirby and Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each week we connect and learn from executives of chambers of commerce from across the country. These short episodes will share success stories, challenges, best practices, and tips and tricks to inspire you, and provide resources for hitting your organizational goals. From recruiting new and retaining current members to finding new and creative revenue sources. You’ll hear straight from those leading chambers and communities throughout the US. Chats with chambers is proudly brought to you by the Nonprofit bootcamp. Learn more and check out the show notes for episodes at https://nonprofitbootcamponline.com
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey there, welcome to another chats with chambers where we talk with chamber executives all about what’s working well what are some of the challenges they’re facing and help give you tips and ideas for how you can go in your chamber as well. And today, I am so excited to be joined by Jasmine. Heading girl Dakota. Did I say that right heading? Yes,
[Jasmin Fosheim] you got it.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Oh, perfect. I’m always bad with the pronunciations. Well, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m thrilled to be here. Yeah. So before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your chamber and, you know, kind of what Hettinger North Dakota is all about?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, for sure. So Hettinger, North Dakota is a small community in southwest North Dakota. Our chamber serves all of Adams County, which has a population of about 2300 people heading your host population, about 1200 people, major industries, of course, we’ve got farming and ranching. But what sets us apart a little bit is that healthcare is actually our number two industry. So we have a medical center here, Regional Medical Center that employs well over 150 people and services a 20,000 square mile radius around Hettinger. So really just a very impactful Medical Center. It’s a big industry for us, and something that you don’t typically see in a small community like ours.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That’s great. Um, so if you could kind of pat yourself on the back of something that you think your chamber just does awesome at or kind of wins that what what would you say that is?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, great question. I think the one on one connections is really where we stand out. It’s something that we’re really blessed to be in a small community and have the time to do that. But you know, I can say with absolute certainty that whether I’m seeing my chamber businesses at the local steakhouse on a Friday night or at lunch and learn on Tuesday, I, I know them all by name, I know what they’ve got going on. I probably know their kids, I probably watched them in sports games. And so being able to have that intimate connection with all of my, my Chamber members, I think just really allows us to have a more cohesive, strong chamber who really represents the people that we serve.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And do you think that that helps you also in like, recruiting or retention of your membership? Because, you know, you have all of those folks that you have such a great relationship with already advocating for you as well?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, absolutely. I, I think that the the Chamber members that we have, are incredibly loyal. And they’re incredibly loud and proud about what we’re able to do for them. And so I would say that they’re probably our biggest, our biggest piece of advertising is just word of mouth, from all of the businesses who are so loyal to our chamber because of those close relationships we have.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think that’s great. And I think it can be daunting, as you mentioned, for a larger organization, but I think there’s probably ways you could create, you know, almost an ambassador program, or, you know, have true, like champions, or cheerleaders or whatever that kind of go out and help do that work in a larger community.
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, I think so. Especially, you know, I imagine in a larger community, it’s important that you have a strong staff behind you. We have only in a typical time right now, it was a little weird because we’re transitioning between employees. But typically, we only have two employees here at the chamber. And we employees are employed across three organizations. And so there’s no way that we can have that small relation or that tight knit relationship with our businesses if we didn’t have such a small community. But I imagine if you’re in a larger community and you have The staffing to be honest, you kind of divide and conquer, there’s a way to create that small town feel that close knit feel, without being in a small community.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, and I think that’s something small businesses love and thrive off of, because they’re operating in smaller shops to, you know, like, they don’t have that connection.
[Jasmin Fosheim] Well, the nice thing is that we’re wired that way, as human beings that we want that connection, we’re drawn to connection. And you think about business classes. It’s networking one on one. And so if you can find a way to authentically create those connections, it’s what everybody is striving toward. And it’s what ultimately is going to make sure that everybody is successful.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that’s so good. That is so good. Um, so one on one connections is one of your biggest strong points, what would you say is something that is a challenge for your organization? Yeah.
[Jasmin Fosheim] So I am sure I’m not the only person out there who will be saying this, but workforce is absolutely just such a hard thing to be dealing with right now. You know, it’s really interesting. We, in our small community, I think there’s maybe this misconception that there are people who are sitting around who don’t want to work or choosing not to work. And I can tell you that at least in my community, that’s not the case. And the people who are able to be working, are working, and they’re probably working two jobs, three jobs, just to make things work, and just to support the community. So, you know, finding that workforce or altering business operations to make it work, when we don’t have the workforce to do what we want to do is just really, it has been very challenging. And I alluded earlier to the fact that that we, too, are struggling with, with workforce in our office. And so, you know, I knew it was an issue. And then we opened up our position for hiring. And then I was like, Okay, this is really an issue. And now I can commiserate a little bit, I have a lot more so because it’s like, Where are the people? They’re already working and doing a good job, and you can’t just steal from from other businesses and think that that’s an OK model for our community. Yeah, so
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] it’s maybe having to rethink the way that the job roles are filled, and how you, you know, what things can you maybe automate versus, you know, what are the standard ways that we’ve used employees in the past? And how do we change that? And
[Jasmin Fosheim] that could be a challenge. Yeah. And I think what I’m learning too, is that you got to be able to take care of your employees. People aren’t just looking for a paycheck, they’re looking for a culture that they they feel supported by that they feel empowered by, and they’re looking to be cared for much more, in more ways than just a paycheck.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that well, so how, how has that kind of realization played into kind of the way that you create the culture, even around your chamber membership?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, certainly. So I think we just we figured out that we have to reach people where they’re at. One thing that we really struggle with is, you know, we’ve got all these amazing events and whatnot going on. But they’re not amazing if people aren’t attending them. Right. And what we’re finding is that everybody is just so inundated with so many things that they’ve got going on. And I think that it can just be exacerbated when you’re in a small town and your kids are involved in literally everything under the sun. And you’ve got the I you know, your church is counting on you to bake brownies for the funeral, and you’ve got all these different things that you have to be doing. How do you keep track of everything that’s going on. And so we have found that we literally have to utilize every single resource there is at our disposal to advertise any events, reaching out to people, it’s those personal invitations, it’s the the texts, it’s the calls, it’s the email, newsletters, the radio, the newspaper, we’ve got to be everywhere, otherwise people will just miss miss what we’ve got going on. Not not for anyone’s fault, just the fact that we’re really busy human beings. And at a certain point, you’ve got to prioritize and, and we’ve got so much coming at us that our our filters are filtering out what we don’t see as immediately important. And so impressing upon people that importance and reaching them where it works for them.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, it used to be you had to see something seven times before it sunk in. And I think now in this digital age, I’ve heard people say upwards of like 18 to 21 times do they have to see the same message before it like really, right?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Because we’re being so inundated all the time. It’s just it’s such a challenge. So we’ve had to get creative and we’ve had to really lean into that I’m kind of the intimacy of the relationships. I know not every chamber director has times to time to stop and devote 15 minutes to shooting out a couple of texts to businesses and say, Hey, I know you’re busy. But I think that you could really benefit from this. And oftentimes, they’re like, yes, thank you so much for reaching out, I would have missed it otherwise. But again, I think it’s just an another benefit of living in a small community and having those close knit relationships.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, well, you’ve given so many great tips already. But is there kind of any one nugget of information that you wish you could broadcast to all chambers that that they could hear?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, so I put a lot of thought into this. And I think that the one thing that really has worked for us is just contagious optimism. Love that I think it may be it’s a little touchy feely for some people, and there might be some listeners who kind of roll their eyes at it. But really, truly, I think that coming when I came into this position four years ago, I was I was 23 years old, this was my first big girl job i. And because I was so new and so bright eyed and bushy tailed and so fresh. I really did have this contagious optimism that some people probably thought was just unrealistic. And you know, that I was gonna, my spirit would be crushed, or whatever happens when you move into this work world, into the real world, as we call it, but I think it’s really what was a catalyst for the shift in mindset within our community that really has propelled us to, you know, this stage of progress where you really in the last couple of years, we’ve had constant big projects, big meaningful projects going on. And without the optimism and without the that contagiousness of the optimism within our organization and the culture that we’ve created. I don’t think that would be possible, because we’d still have the cave people saying, we tried that once and it didn’t work, or that’s never gonna work here. And I know that that sounds familiar to everyone listening. You know, just slapping a smile on your face and saying, No, you know, we’re gonna give it a shot. And if it doesn’t work, that’s gonna be okay. At least we’ll know for sure. But what’s gonna hurt if we if we give it a try? And then it does work? Right?
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yep. 100%. I love that. That’s so great. So if somebody’s listening to this podcast from your area, and they’re not a member of the chamber yet, you know why? Why would becoming a member of your chamber be smart for them and something fun for them?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, I, I think that the biggest thing I can say is that we’re advocates for all things quality of life in Hettinger. And in Adams County, when you think about the chamber, you think about support for businesses. But that’s not all we’re doing out. You know, we’re making sure that there are events that are drawing people into the community, we’re making sure that you’ve got ways to get the information that you need. And we’re helping drop people into the community so that we don’t have a declining population. And we’re helping engage the youth to make sure they’re excited about staying in our community or coming back once they do their education. So, you know, the chamber is great when it comes to supporting your business. But the chamber is all about supporting your community. And if you live here, and you care about that community, then the chamber is for you.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that’s great. I love that perspective. I think that’s awesome. So if people want to learn more about you in the Hettinger chamber, how do they do that?
[Jasmin Fosheim] Yeah, so you’re welcome to check out our website at www.hettingernd.com. Or you can reach out to us I would be happy to chat with anybody who wants to learn a little bit more about what we’ve got going on in Hettinger. The Our phone number is 1-701-567-2531. And like I said, I’d be happy to field any questions or just chat anything out with anyone.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. Well, thank you so much, Jasmin for being on this episode.
[Jasmin Fosheim] I really, yeah. Thanks for the invite. I’m so thrilled that I could be here.
[Closing] Hey, thanks for listening to chats with chambers. For more information about the chamber featured in this episode or to check out show notes for links and resources. Visit nonprofitbootcamponline/podcast. Hey subscribe, give us a five star review if you liked what you heard and if you are a chamber would like to be a guest on this show. Hey, email us email@example.com Or firstname.lastname@example.org Links in the show notes.
Building relationships with your members is something that Jasmin, Executive Director of the Hettinger, ND chamber credits to their success. She knows all her members by name and has great relationships with them outside of just the chamber membership.
Building a close knit, small town feel, can help with retention in your chamber and help you connect to your members no matter what the size of their business. That way they will help advocate for you as well when it comes to bring their business besties along.
Hettinger faces workforce issues, like many other areas in the country. They’re tackling it by looking into how you can reasses your current employees and job roles. Also, how are you building a culture that makes employees feel excited to work at your business.
When it comes to Jasmin’s favorite tip, it’s optimism. Going forward hoping for the best and just keeping on keeping on can help with growth and improving your organization.
Questions We Asked
- What is the Hettinger Chamber all about? [1:28]
- What are some wins? [2:37]
- What are challenges you face? [5:52]
- What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [10:42]
- How can you learn more about Hettinger? [12:44]
Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce
Jasmin graduated from Augustana University in 2017. After volunteering as a teacher in the Marshall Islands, Jasmin moved to Hettinger in 2018 and accepted a position as the Executive Director of the Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce and Adams County Development Corporation. In her time with these organizations, she developed a passion for community development and grant writing, successfully securing nearly $1,000,000 in grant funds since moving to Hettinger. After recognizing the need for additional grant writing and capacity building support for rural businesses, organizations, and communities, Jasmin, in partnership with her sister, founded their business Realizing Rural. Their work centers on shifting the rural narrative from surviving to thriving. Jasmin also currently serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Adams County Community Foundation and Able, Inc. boards of directors. She is also a member of the ninth cohort of Rural Leadership, ND. Learn more at https://hettingernd.com