Newcomers at our Meetings

Hi All! This is not a big issue, but it has come up, so we would like your input. Michael Edelstein, with the very best of intentions, has sometimes asked guests at our meetings who show up the first time what would it take for them to come back to another meeting. I have asked him not to do this because I think it puts them on the spot and it rings of desperatism (as noted by one very rude newcomer who joined us about 6 months ago and never returned, which was no great loss) for new members. Michael says it shows that we're interested in them and their opinions, and it's an attempt to include them in our business and make them feel welcome. What do you think?

Thanks!
Aubrey

There's surely something to be said for "asking for the order" and "going for the close". If you feel this puts too much pressure on guests in a meeting environment, how about developing a written survey we can hand them afterwards saying we'd appreciate their feedback if they get the chance. That way they can ignore if they want. And if they respond there will hopefully be a question on it asking if they would like to be added to our Discuss list or included in communications regarding activities or whatever. We can probably get more information in that format than in a face to face if they cooperate.

Just a thought.

Mike

Aubrey,

Thank you for opening this issue for discussion.

Mike's suggestion seems brilliant! It includes the newcomers, shows an interest in them, conveys we value their opinions, and has the potential for obtaining useful information for running our meetings. All this without putting them on the spot.

A simple way to accomplish this would involve distributing to the newcomers as they come in, a blank sheet of paper with instructions something like this: "What suggestions do you have for making our meetings more interesting to you as a newcomer? Our objective involves encouraging you to continue to attend our monthly meetings. Feel free to submit this without identifying information."

Warm regards, Michael

Perhaps getting newcomers to come back to meetings is not the right goal
to seek.

IMO, the goal is for them to become activists. Not all activists enjoy
— or are useful at — meetings.

~Chris

Hi Chris,

Good point. The end goal is to create activists.

How would you move them into activism without initially having them as regular meeting attendees to enthuse them and create the milieu for bonding with other activists?

Warm regards, Michael

Ensure that there are milieux for enthusing and bonding which are not
meetings. Some people really like meetings; most do not.

~Chris
- --
Chris Maden, text nerd <URL: http://crism.maden.org/ >
  FIVE TONS OF FLAX
GnuPG fingerprint: DB08 CF6C 2583 7F55 3BE9 A210 4A51 DBAC 5C5C 3D5E

Hi Aubrey,

Interesting point; thanks for mentioning it! Another suggestion might be what is the more conventional way to subtly getting information, your just asking during your usual greeting and welcoming, "How did you hear about us?" That usually elicits information as to why they are there, and by extension what would bring them back.

I think the idea of distributing a special survey might be somewhat threatening also, but maybe you could add a "Suggestions and Comments" section at the bottom of the sheet you distribute for signing up for the Discussion Group.

I totally agree with Chris' comments. I was never that enthused about inviting new people to LPSF meetings -- they come not having a clue as to what to expect, and end up either bored to tears or scared to death (especially those who have never been in the presence of engaged, forceful activists like us!).

In my opinion, although we can ensure that meetings are civil and efficient (Michael's time keeping helps immensely), they are still places where the sausage is made, maybe not so appealing to brand new eyes. As a remedy, maybe squeeze the sausage making to 1.75 hours; have some interesting event for the last 15 minutes (somebody wanting hawking his/her books, cause, event, etc; or some expert on something); promote the after-meeting social more (and maybe make it more collaborative, given that some would prefer beer and pizza in place of veggies). New people wanting to find out more about LPSF, could be subtly encouraged to come to the talk and social.

Anyway, good to review goals and objectives often! Thank you again, Aubrey.

Marcy

Chris,

  I agree, getting people to be activists is the real goal. And thank you by the way for applying to the national Platform committee. You definitely have my support.

  For anyone else who may be interested, the Libertarian National Committee will likely be selecting people to serve on the Platform, Bylaws, and Credentials committees at our upcoming LNC meeting in Chicago this weekend. Right now there is a scarcity of applicants for these committees, especially Credentials and Bylaws. All three are important, though Credentials a little less so than the other two. If you are strongly committed to the libertarian cause of freedom and think you might be interested in serving, please write or call me and I can tell you more.

  Getting back to the original topic, I agree that asking people point blank what it would take to get them to come back may be a little awkward. A survey asking them more about their interests, what they'd like to see us doing, seems like a good suggestion though. Are some people still making phone calls inviting new people to come again? I definitely think that is a worthwhile effort (and appreciate those who've been doing it -- Michael Edelstein and someone else?)

Love & Liberty,
                                  ((( starchild )))
At-Large Representative, Libertarian National Committee

Hi Starchild and All! Thanks for all your comments. Boy, you ask the Libertarians a question and you get all kinds of answers! Michael Edelstein does call each newcomer shortly before the next meeting and invite them back--thanks Michael for continuing to do that. It shows that we do care. The problem of the disappearing newcomers has been tossed around alot since my time with the LPSF. About a year ago, in my regular thanks-for-attending-our-LPSF meeting emails, which I always send to newcomers after their first meeting, I asked folks what they they thought about our meeting. I'm sorry I asked. They were polite but to the point--they felt we didn't do that much and weren't interested in joining an organization that didn't do that much. Since then, I continue to send my thank you emails each month, but I don't bug them about the meeting--just try to write something personal that might be of interest to them and let them know of some
upcoming event to lure them in. Clearly some folks just come to our meetings out of a passing interest and there's nothing we could do to lure them back again, even if we paid them bitcoins! We have had the occasional one that looked promising as a potential activist, and I definitely do extra nurturing with those folks--my success rate has not been high in this area, but I haven't given up yet.

At this point I will try to add something to the form that I give to each newcomer (please check off the following what you are interested in--announce list, discussion list, etc.) that looks for their interests, and I will promote the dinner at the beginning of the meeting so folks feel more welcome to come to that. (I always go to dinner afterwards, and many times the newcomers have joined us, we've had really interesting discussions over dinner--and then you never see them again.) I cannot condense the meeting into a shorter timeframe, and it's obvious that I can never wrap things up by 5:00. I'm surprised the library folks haven't chased us out of there since we're still yakking away in the room at 5:30 sometimes.

Thanks for all your comments!
Aubrey