Phyllis Mehalakes, who has chaired the Ambassador Program as a volunteer for five years, didn’t know about nglccNY when she met James Howard, a financial advisor who was then an ambassador himself. He told her about the chamber and invited her to a mixer. Within a few months Phyllis had become a member and an ambassador; two years later she was chairing the program and has done so for five years now.
Anywhere from eight to fifteen people become new members of the chamber each month, and every new member is assigned an ambassador. As Phyllis describes it, “nglccNY is a big organization; we now have over 700 members, up from 300 when I joined. That is a large network to tap into, and through the ambassadors we offer guidance on the many ways to do so. Making the best out of your membership requires understanding what is available to you as a member, from the monthly mixers to programming to tools such as your own page in the membership directory. Who is eligible to get certified? How do you get certified? Is there something here for people who don’t qualify for certification? We help new members find their way through all of it.”
There are currently ten active ambassadors; Phyllis’ ideal is ten to twelve. She meets with each of the ambassadors one-on-one every January to find out what is working and what isn’t, and to solicit ideas on how to better serve the nglccNY membership. All the ambassadors also meet monthly to ensure that they are current on upcoming events and other information that is important to the membership of the chamber.
Phyllis, who is a residential realtor with Compass serving Manhattan and Brooklyn and a Certified LGBTE®, understands what it takes for people to feel at home so it is no surprise that she seeks to bring that feeling to nglccNY members and guests through the ambassador program. “The most important thing is that ambassadors are welcoming, inviting, and responsive. Our goal is for people to be comfortable and to feel at home, to make nglccNY their business home. If you are comfortable you can be yourself and build true, honest relationships.”
While the nglccNY ambassadors focus on new members, they serve the entire membership. At mixers they are constantly introducing people to one another and getting to know each of the members they meet. They also reach out to certified businesses and businesses that can be certified whenever there are program offerings, a Biz Pitch, or a Certified Superstar event for these members. Ambassadors often serve as the connection between members of the chamber and the nglccNY board and staff. As one example of this, the chamber is now supporting an expansion to Long Island based on the request of two members.
When asked about success stories of the Ambassador Program, Phyllis began talking about the success that various chamber members have found through their membership, successes that began with ambassadors and connections that brought them into the nglccNY community, leading to commercial success. “I have a great team of ambassadors,” Phyllis said. What we do best is that we connect people. If I have to look overall at our success story, it is watching new members get acclimated, thrive, build their own networks and then bring guests who become members. That is the greatest compliment of all.”
Written by Brian Gorman, an NGLCC member and an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified professional coach. He brings five decades of change experience and study into every coaching conversation. He has served clients as large as Merck Manufacturing, as well as startups and individual leaders. Brian taps into the core of the matter, helping each person maximize their professional and personal potential. Brian works both one-on-one and with teams. In addition to his writing for nglccNY, Brian is a frequent contributor to Forbes online (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/people/briangorman/#741ca8535c20 ) and serves as Managing Editor of Change Management Review. Website: www.TransformingLives.Coach Brian@TransformingLives.Coach