Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Engaging Member Conversation

One of the key challenges for staff and volunteers is to engage members, especially new members, to help them find satisfying ways to participate in the association.

So let’s try a little test. 
Imagine you’ve just joined an association - as a “newbie” you’re trying to figure out what the association has to offer and whether to attend a meeting or get more involved in some other way. Which of these three approaches will most likely engage you?


"I will now describe every single program, benefit
and event the association offers!"

This laundry list” approach tends to be endemic among association staff who have developed the habit of reciting everything the association has to offer. It's like going to a restaurant, listening to the waiter recite a long list of specials, then feeling embarrassed when you ask to have the list repeated.


"What? You haven't attended a meeting or served on a committee?"

This is an approach common to the long-time member (someone who has volunteered multiple times  to serve on committees, task forces and even the Board). He can't imagine why every member isn't doing the same. Alas, this approach is frequently off-putting - it has that "in your face" feel - to those who have neither the time nor inclination for such intimate involvement with the association.


"We have all sorts of members who participate in different ways..."

With this approach, you begin the conversation by saying: "Some of our members don't have much time, so they're happy with our publications and participating on the listserv. Other members find they want to attend our annual meeting and some really enjoy making presentations. A smaller number of our members are more 'hands-on' - they like to serve on our various committees and special interest groups. Do any of these options appeal to you?"

This approach reassures the new member, making it clear there are a variety of "valid" ways to participate and benefit from the association. More importantly, it allows the member to feel comfortable with whatever option is chosen.

'nuff said!

1 comment:

  1. There is a 4th approach and one which good salesmen use: Ask open ended questions to solicit what interests, time opportunities, and expectations of the new or potential member. Upon learning more, the membership staff person can highlight those benefits which meet what has been shared.