- Assign a chapter lead (male or female) for this initiative and ask female members and resource partners to be on the committee –they are your local ambassadors.
- Assess your image or what you’re known for in the local market by conducting some informational/qualitative interviews. Identify all the organizations who serve small business or are small business owners themselves in your local market and interview them. This will provide you with a benchmark. Start the conversation by stating your goals and ask for their expert thoughts. Cast a wide net, with a focus on organizations with female in management.
- Assess and refresh your local SCORE brand image logos, all of your print material, including tabletop signs, anything online, workshop templates, photos & video, apparel, etc. SCORE is no longer an acronym so make it appear that way visually.
Develop a Plan - Identify 3-5 organizations, among those you’ve interviewed, who are interested in working with you to build your presence in the marketplace – offer opportunities both within chapter and client-facing to engage – one-offs to start, ex. focus on need areas for mentoring and workshops, ex. online/digital marketing, crowdfunding, nonprofit, bookkeeping, etc., ask them to speak at a monthly meeting or be on a client-facing panel. Then, find out what their needs are and offer reciprocal arrangements where you help their organization with SCORE services to continuebuilding the relationship and getting the word out.
- Create and Promote your chapter opportunities online Use updated brand messaging and nomenclature (ex. eliminate the word ‘retired’ in your recruitment ads) and connect with women’s groups or potential partners online LinkedIn, Volunteer Match, NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), industry-specific groups, i.e. Women in Technology, Meet Up, etc.
- Plan Women-specific events or offer to get involved with a partner already doing this, ex. Fort Wayne Women’s Expo can be simple to complex depending on your chapter resources, ex. networking, peer to peer roundtables, breakfast and lunch series, expos/biz fests Key topics of interest to women include hearing from successful women who have done it/ networking/ tables to sell their company/education–topics of specific interest to women (all of which address their need to learn and connect).
- Don’t Forget to Make the ASK to be a member, resource partner or ambassador for referrals. This is the biggest miss many encounter. Ongoing, continue networking and making the Ask because it may take several tries to keep in touch with your primary contacts on your progress, thank them for their efforts, go back to asking for one of help and ASK again.
- Once Members are on Onboard focus on Retention create a welcoming environment, assign a long term sponsor, get them involved early and often, don’t forget to ASK them to get involved in your executive leadership team, show appreciation/showcase their value, offer periodic check in’s, and above all make SCORE opportunities to volunteer and mentor FLEXIBLE to fit their time and schedule. Remember women love to learn; women are looking for the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and are relationship builders looking at the longer term, the big picture.
These strategies can work for any group you are targeting in order to increase chapter diversity, which will allow you to maximize your services and relevancy in the local small business community.