There is a game that I have enjoyed playing for years now which tests my movie and TV show knowledge – a game that I will jump in and play at any given chance. While the game has many different names or forms, the most common name for it is the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. If you have not played this game before it is pretty simple – the idea is that you can connect any actor/actress to Kevin Bacon in 6 steps or less. (For instance, Michael Keaton was in Batman with Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.) The game takes creative energy to figure out how different people are connected – it is a great way to pass some time with friends.
The 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game also helps highlight an important thought when it comes to building volunteer teams. In my previous post I talked a little about the value of a good system when it comes to bringing in new volunteers. A good system is important, but it should not be the only way you bring new people in…in fact it should not even be the main way you bring people in. It is through the power of good relationships that a team will see its greatest influx of long-term volunteers. The people on your team know people, and those people know people…you get the picture?
There is great power and potential when current team members leverage their relationships to bring in new people onto the team. When a person has a good experience, they talk about it…and they usually share it with more than one person.
The reach of a good system is limited, but the reach of good relationships is unlimited. This method of recruiting enables your volunteers to be an active part of the team growth process – and it allows them to serve their friends by inviting them into something meaningful. One of the easiest invites a person can ever give to someone else is to say, “Come join me in what I am doing.” Helping your team identify and bring in new volunteers involves two things:
- Coach your team members to invite people in a personal and compelling way. There are some great thoughts on this found in Dan Reiland’s book Amplified Leadership. On the topic of bringing in new volunteers Dan notes that we should:
- Focus on maturing believers, not filling spots
- Share vision, not tasks
- Communicate expectations
- Make a clear ask/invite
- Follow up in a Timely Manner
Coaching your team to use these guidelines from Amplified Leadership is a great way to empower them when it comes to making a personal and compelling invite.
- Create practical, easy ways for people to connect through relationships. Make sure there is a mechanism to help catalyze your team towards the invite. A few suggestions for this are:
- Have a week each month when you encourage volunteers to bring someone to shadow them in their role
- Offer fun prizes like a gift-card when someone has a friend join the team
- Host a party for your team and allow/encourage them to bring friends
Whichever strategy you lean into for connecting people through relationships, just remember that the greatest asset you have to building your team are the people currently on the team.