Have you ever been in a situation where you walked into a room and didn’t know anyone? Not only were you the new kid in town, but no one came to welcome you or help connect you to the group. This type of environment would deter anyone from ever coming back. Is this happening in your association?
Individuals may decide to join an association for several different reasons. Whether membership is mandatory or a just way to stay connected, members from any association expect to be treated with an exceptional standard of service. As association staff, there are four ways you can be OPEN with members to meet their expectations: online usability, professionalism, engagement, and news.
Navigating through the online world is not always easy. These days, you will notice that an association does a lot of its membership interaction on the internet. Do not make it difficult for members to use the association’s website. Include descriptive menu tabs and links to make browsing a walk in the park. Allow them to access pertinent association news and information easily and quickly. It’s critical that all webpages are up to date and consistently monitored.
Not only do members visit the website for information, but also for payment processing, event registration, and profile updates. These processes involve the sharing of personal information which is why it is imperative that member online experiences are seamless. Make sure to purchase and develop a website that can provide members with peace of mind knowing that they are on a secure and structured website. Having a website that is safe and easy to navigate will allow members to perform autonomously and successfully. For more on how to choose the right website for your association, you may be interested in reading Association Management Systems and Websites Are Becoming One and the Same.
Conducting yourself professionally can go a long way to enhance the credibility of the association you manage. Make sure that you maintain a professional demeanor throughout all interactions with members whether they be in-person or by correspondence. For instance, when writing, always remember to proofread your work. Perhaps even send it to a colleague for a fresh set of eyes. The last thing you would want is to send an email riddled with typos. Be especially careful with the spelling of member names. The more errors you have, the less professional both you and the association are portrayed. If the membership is comprised of members with specific designations, don’t forget to address them accordingly. Never let them feel unwelcomed.
Professionalism can also be captured on the website. Find photos and graphics that are high resolution and high quality. The more quality you put into the design of the website, the more credible the association will become.
One of the most valuable ways members can benefit from being part of an association is to be provided with opportunities to engage with like-minded individuals. Members interacting with each other can happen in many different ways, both online and in-person. Online interaction can come in the form of discussion forums, webinars or the ability to search for a fellow member on the website. Conversely, conferences, seminars, and luncheons are traditional ways members can interact face-to-face.
As association management staff, you have the ability of facilitating these engagements, enabling members the opportunity to network with those of compatible interests and professions. Not only can you set up engagement between members, but among associations, as well. For more on this, you can read Association Collaboration – Is Your Association Partnering for Success?.
By consistently providing association members with up-to-date news related to their field, they will be more in tune to the world that affects them. Information can be delivered in a number of different formats, such as newsletters, articles, webinars, or the association’s annual conference. Releasing the latest news stories will not only retain current members, but can also attract new members.
For instance, consider developing a recurring newsletter exclusively for members. This publication could include news stories and studies that directly relate to their field. You can even get members involved by giving them the opportunity to submit items to the newsletter, ensuring that the material is highly relevant. By becoming their number one source for industry news and studies, members will become eager to learn and be more likely to renew their membership.
As you can see, members expect a lot from their association which can be overwhelming. If you stay on top of managing their expectations by remembering to be OPEN, members will never second guess why they joined in the first place. Their needs will be met, and they will feel like part of the in-crowd.