This year the International Mountain Bike Associations (IMBA) California Regional Summit was held in Mammoth, Ca on September 11th - 13th. There were around 80 people from 32 organizations like IVMTB represented there. Most were from California but there were a couple of groups from other states.
There was a lot of great information shared and great conversations had but here are two key consistent points I took away.
Present our Organization as a resource to the community
One of the most effective ways to build relationships and a good reputation within the community is to serve the community. Our typical approach should be as a resource, asking what we can do to help. This is not to say that we cannot defend our position when we need to but our standard operating mode should be one of service. Here is an example.
The Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation
Approach 1 - Hi, we are the Inland Valley Mountain Bike Association. We are a non profit organization with over 225 members and we want you to ..... or.. we want to.....
Approach 2 - Hi, we are the Inland Valley Mountain Bike Association. We are a non profit organization with over 225 members that care about healthy kids, the environment and mountain biking. What current problems or challenges are you having with your mountain bike trails that we can help with?
Which approach do you think will be more effective in building a long term working relationship? My guess is the second one..
By showing them that we are part of the solution and not the problem they are much more likely to work with us on the things our members would like to see a the Santa Rosa Plateau vs. shutting us out.
Develop relationships outside of the cycling and land management communities
There are a lot of resources within the community that we have not approached as partners, yet we share common values. Our organization values community, healthful activity, preserving the environment, and stimulating the local economy.
- Community - Putting on and supporting group rides, movie nights, community events like parades, etc. Partnering with other local charities to raise money for causes that support our values.
- Healthful activity - Work with local hospitals, recreational centers and youth organizations to see how our organization could support cycling programs they may have or want to build. Hospitals have been known to help fund bike parks to get kids outside riding their bikes. Work with local land developers to ensure that natural terrain bike trails are put into the master plans of new neighborhoods going in. They don't have to be hard core mountain bike trails to get people involved in our sport.
- Preserving the environment - Partner with other local groups on initiatives that support trail development. The Sierra Club has been a primary driver for the development of the Murrieta Creek Regional Trail that will connect Temecula to Lake Elsinore via a multi-use trail. We can find common values and goals with the majority of organizations in the area but we have to develop a trust based relationship.
- Stimulating the local economy - Work with local city tourism offices to see what kind of things we could help with or promote. Mountain biking is becoming a huge revenue center for cities all over the country. Some cities are building huge trail systems to draw tourist to their communities in an effort to revitalize the local economy.
This is just a quick off the top of my head list, and knowing that I am not the smartest guy in this group I am sure we could come up with an impressive list of ideas to go after.
Rex Roberson - IVMTB President