Writing emails to members allows you to develop a more regular rapport, than you can build by sending letters in the mail. With this sort of potentially impersonal communication, tact will go a long way toward establishing a lasting and positive relationship with your members.
Build a Trusting Relationship
When you’re building a professional relationship from the ground up it’s best to keep it simple in the beginning and start off slowly. Send non-intrusive emails so that members don’t feel they are being “sold to” or pressured into a relationship with you.
The idea of giving your members space shouldn’t be undervalued, especially when there is little to no trust established yet. Remember, this person has not met you and has no reason to trust you. For this reason, if your intention is to ask a favour, pique interest about an upcoming conference, or to try and remind them to pay their past due membership fees, you want to come across as professional and not overly friendly right away.
However, you also don’t want to come across as a robot! This is fundamentally about building a long-term relationship. At some point, you’re going to have sufficient trust and respect established so that you can easily and simply personalize your emails while remaining professional. When you’re sure this foundation of respect and trust is there, conveying a personal tone and style becomes important in making the relationship between member and association staff a lasting one because it brings an element of personality and likeability to your emails.
Make an Impression
What’s important with email is to understand that the only information your member has about you are the words written in your email to them. What you write literally defines everything, they know about you so think very carefully about what you’re saying. Consider who this member is, what events or conferences they have attended, and how they can benefit from a relationship with you.
Review your Email
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, always review your email before you send it. Because communication using text can be limiting, you have to be completely sure that you are not giving the wrong impression or writing something you do not intend to. When communicating in person we use many cues to communicate such as the words, our body language, tone of voice, eye contact, body position, etc. None of these are available to complement and possibly clarify your text in an email.
Imagine you are the recipient of the email and read it to yourself first. You’ll likely be surprised at how often you can find potentially problematic misinterpretations in what you thought was a very straightforward communication.