User Group Best Practices: User Group Ambassador Responsibilities

User Group Ambassador. That is a term you will see used here on The MUG Center, on the user group section of the Apple web site, and many other places. What you don’t see often a definition of the term, how one achieves that lofty status, and what the responsibilities are that go with the position. We’re going to change that with this entry in our User Group Best Practices series.

What and How
Your group’s ambassador is someone you select as the “point person” to interact with Apple’s user group program for at least some if not all of the benefits offered. It can be an officer or someone you specifically designate as a separate position.

Ambassador status is confirmed with Apple when you either register or update your group’s listing in the Apple User Group Locator. It can be changed at any time by your group’s leadership simply by editing your information.

Some groups designate Ambassadors for different responsibilities such as vendor interaction, special events, etc.

Responsibilities
Apple doesn’t specifically designate the duties of the ambassador, other than being the primary point of contact if/when necessary. That doesn’t mean there are not responsibilities that every ambassador should accept and embrace.

The Ambassador should be responsible for keeping the listing in the Locator up-to-date. That includes the information the public sees when they look for a MUG in the Locator, such as name, location, web site URL (and it is amazing how many of those go out of date quickly), and the information that isn’t included in the public listings, such as the three primary contacts for your group and their email addresses, etc. As a best practice, your ambassador should surf the Locator at least two times each year to check your listing and update any information. Of course, if there is a change in the information, that should be updated immediately.

The Ambassador is also usually the one designated to have access to your group’s Apple Sales Web account and Apple Sales Training Online. The former gives access to presentation materials and scripts for Apple products and services, the ability to order the Maibox DVD, special user group copies of such items as the current version of the Mac OS, select products (both for group demos and use only), and more. The latter delivers online training about Apple hardware, software and services, to help prepare presenters for your Apple-product focused meetings.

At the very least, the Ambassador should subscribe to the Apple User Group Bulletin (AUGB), Apple’s official communication method to user group leaders. There’s a common misundertanding that, by being designated as one of your group’s three contacts, or even as the Ambassador, that you are automatically subscribed to that list. Apple’s policy (one we wholeheartedly agree with, and that has become industry standard) is to not subscribe anyone to any email list without a specific request.

Contained in each month’s Bulletin is news for user group leaders, a members news section with information that is suitable for newsletter publication, and special vendor offers available to user group members only. The Ambassador should either pass this information along to the group’s publication editor, or better yet, have them sign up for the Bulletin themselves, to be sure this valuable resource is not overlooked.

The Ambassador should also subscribe to the Apple User Group Discussion email list. Open to any user group member, officer or activist, this is the forum Apple provides for discussion of topics of interest to those who lead Mac user groups around the world. Like any specific-topic list the traffic waxes and wanes, but it can be a great place to get new ideas or ask for help with challenges your group faces.
Other types of ambassadorship
Ambassadors can be designated for other special activities as the need dictates. For example, not every group can attend Macworld Conference & Expo, but it can be beneficial to have a member who is attending act as an Ambassador to user group events at Expo, such as the Adobe User Group Breakfasts. If your group designates this type of one-time ambassador, be sure you provide your ambassador with all the information about your group, copies of newsletters to share, and a clear understanding of who gets to keep the give-aways and/or raffle prices. That last might sound a little strange, but we’ve seen it become a point of contention after the fact. Better to have it spelled out right up front.

The Bottom Line
The position of User Group Ambassador can be an essential to your user group if performed properly. Taking advantage of Apple resources, keeping your group’s information up-to-date so you can be found, representing your group at industry functions and more are all hallmarks of an ambassador’s job well done.

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