Monday, February 23, 2009

A Definition, Please

Recently I have been asked to speak to several organizations about how they can be more friendly to their members and visitors.

I have come to realize that there are two terms that should be used with this concept. Each might mistakenly be used interchangeably, but they really don't mean the same thing.

The words are:

Friendly vs. Welcoming

From my point of view, friendly means that you smile at me when we meet. You probably also say hello.

Welcoming means that a connection is made. The person welcoming others to the meeting is friendly AND she acts like a host.

As the host, she welcomes members and asks about their day. She shows interest. As for visitors, she asks about them so that she can then introduce them to others. She might even have some official helpers that take on the duties of helping the visitor to feel even more welcome. It could mean that the visitor is introduced to other interested members or this assistant could ask the visitor if she would like to sit with her during the meeting.

It doesn't take much, but the difference is tremendous. It probably says a lot about how some organizations continue to be successful year after year, while others struggle for membership and participation.

What's your take on this?

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