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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How to make your Lodge Happy for $6.95 and Retain Members, An IDEA

I am in the middle of organizing and setting up a domain for my lodge. I never thought such an easy task would be so well received. I'm been playing footsy with this idea for a while. Last night I simply went in and bought the domain for my lodge at my own expense. Not really a big deal at the $6.95 it cost me. That being said, the simple action and ability to take it past that has delighted the few brethren who I have informed already of my actions and plan. Now that I have the domain I will create a lodge e-mail address for each member, with chat and lots of extra features. This will help put a smile on many a lodge members faces and give them something to play with. Now my lodge has a new value proposition for it's members. The reason this solution came up however was that we were looking, and I was tasked, to find an application that would allow the members to collaborate on our educational papers. It is a project our lodge is proud to undertake and we have even received public praise from the Grand Master for our educational efforts.

I could hold the secret to all the steps I will take and keep it for myself but I'd rather share it. As always, if you have trouble just drop me an e-mail.

Step by Step Instructions for You to Bring this value to your lodge Too!

  1. Head over to a reliable Domain seller. (Disclosure: The link provided goes to my domain site LinkStorm but feel free to go anywhere you want. I can assist you better if you run into trouble though if you use mine. I've received negative comments in the past for pushing my own services so I'm listing a few others as well because people seem to have issue with me promoting my own businesses on MY OWN blog at times.) Other reputable domain hosts are: GoDaddy and NetFirms
  2. Once at the Domain Site run a search for your lodge name, then run small changes to it till you get one that is available and you like it. I recommend sticking with a .com if you can because they are pretty inexpensive and easier to remember.
  3. Buy the domain. IMPORTANT!!! Make sure wherever you buy your domain from that they give you "Total DNS Control". Some don't so please watch for this. You don't need any of the extra stuff they try to upsell you with after that.
  4. OK now you have the domain. The fun begins. Head over to Google Apps.
  5. Sign up for Google Apps with the new domain name.
  6. Follow the directions given by Google Apps to set-up your account. Running into trouble? Leave me a comment or send me an e-mail. I'll always help a brother as long as they are understanding of my time and they listened to me in step 3 about DNS Control.
  7. You now have a full e-mail and collaborative solution set-up for your lodge, company or organization.
  8. Enjoy your efforts and the smiles from the brethren, especially the younger ones who never thought their lodge would enter the 20th century, let alone the 21st.
Some ideas after this is established would be to utilize the new Google Sites option. Give each committee a site where they can discuss and collaborate with each other from home. Great for your finance committee (sharing spreadsheets), social committee (sharing whatever they share), special projects... etc...
The shared calender is great as well for making sure everyone knows when events are on and for scheduling those all important lodges practices (and tee times).

The sky is the limit.

My next and last warning is that this strategy will cause you to dedicate some time to setting things up but I think you will find, for the first time ever perhaps, that people will be willing to step in who have some technical knowledge. They will just be glad someone has implemented this on their own accord.

There are lots of dreamers out there but it takes only ONE do'er sometimes just to get things done! For less than ten bucks and a few minutes of your time today you can become a do'er too.

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