The Importance of being a Community Partner
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Community partners for you can come in many forms. They could be board members, advisory board members, universities, hoteliers, downtown alliance groups, professional teams, facility owners, volunteers, sponsors, etc. The one thing they need to have in common is the buy into your organization’s mission and vision. With this buy-in, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to understand and navigate political landscapes, fundraise, accomplish organizational goals and take your organization to new heights. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Most of your community partners’ primary business is not tourism, but their willingness to help and understand tourism’s contribution to the community is what makes them unique.
Most sports commissions or sports tourism departments are very small staffs, which lead to lots of travel, long hours and many weekend events. All of this means, limited time for yourself, your family or your community. Trust me, I understand! In saying that, what kind of community partner are you? You are working to create a positive economic and social impact on your community, but what else are you doing? When I took my most recent job in a new, unfamiliar community, I asked my boss what do I need to do to get people to buy in so I can create my web of community partnerships. Her response was simple: prove that you care about your community. I was challenged to get involved in different ways throughout the community and be a community partner to others. Essentially, become a servant leader in my community. Diving into the community gave me the opportunity to “prove myself,” but it also allowed me the chance the gain a deeper understanding of my community while expanding my local network.
Whether it’s volunteering for the YMCA Christmas Tree drive, participating in a park cleanup, doing stats at the local university’s softball game, helping to raise money for your local United Way or serving on an advisory committee for your local Chamber of Commerce, we all have different ways we can be more involved in our communities. This authentic community partnership paves the way for more meaningful relationships in your community. At conferences, we often hear that our industry is dependent on relationships. I encourage all of you to take the time to make sure you carry that philosophy over to your community.
Director of Sports Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports