By Diane Webster
When members of your association feel appreciated, they are effective brand ambassadors for your organization and are willing to donate their time and effort. And because the success of every association hinges on member involvement, it is imperative to keep members motivated and engaged. An association is only as strong as its people. Inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more and your association will be recognized as a leader.
So stop thinking of member appreciation as an afterthought and consider it an integral part of your association’s success. Here are some ways you can achieve member satisfaction and appreciation.
Provide exclusive benefits. Offering members-only benefits will show member appreciation and promote involvement.
• Hold private networking events. These might include exclusive industry partner meetings at trade shows or hosting your own annual conference that includes education and networking for members only.
• Publish an e-newsletter for members that features member news along with industry-related trending news.
• Publish a trade magazine and offer it free to members. Highlight member successes in the publication, as well as industry news and articles on market statistics and trends.
• Offer members-only educational programming, such as guest speakers, webinars, certification programs or classes at association conferences, to help expand member knowledge and create opportunities for networking and knowledge-sharing.
Offer leadership opportunities. There are few times in life in which people have direct access to leadership positions. Take advantage of this by encouraging membership participation on committees and boards. Offer members opportunities to help organize special events or recognize their thought leadership by having them lead a lecture, webinar or group or panel discussion.
Encourage networking. Publish a membership guide with contact information for each member so members from different parts of the country have access to an entire network of industry peers.
• Host monthly meetings or annual events where members are encouraged to engage with their peers.
• Devise an interactive social media scavenger hunt at your annual meeting to encourage member interaction on a social level.
• Plan social outings and activities where the only goal is for members to get to know each other, bond with their colleagues and expand their professional networks.
Recognize achievements. Celebrate member successes with annual award programs. This can be done in a number of ways. Reward member innovation with opportunities to showcase new ideas and/or products. Recognize up-and-coming leaders with “40 Under 40” awards or reward longtime members’ participation with legacy awards.
• Remember birthdays and anniversaries, work milestones and membership longevity. People love acknowledgement, so even small gestures like a card or handwritten note will mean a lot.
• Use social media to share member news or milestones. For example, if you have a member celebrating 50 years with your association, post their photo on Facebook and say a quick note of congratulations. Remember to tag the person’s place of employment in your post, so their company can share the news as well.
• Follow your member companies on social media and regularly like, comment and share their posts. This will make members feel that the association cares enough to take the extra step to engage with them.
• Recognize and praise hard work and exceptional achievement. This not only provides personal recognition, but can also motivate other members to put their best foot forward in hopes of one day receiving recognition as well.
Value ideas. Be open to new ideas and feedback from all members of your association. Offer opportunities for open comment during in-person and conference call meetings or via an anonymous suggestion box at your annual conference. Encourage members to tell you what may be lacking in their membership or what you can change to make a member feel more valued. Conduct periodic surveys to track progress and adjust your methods.
Respond promptly. When members raise ideas, opinions or concerns, respond to each of them. Acknowledge that they took time to express themselves and provide them with the appropriate feedback. Being prompt and responsive shows that you genuinely care about what your members have to say.
Showcase expertise. Highlight member expertise by encouraging them to contribute to a member publication like an e-newsletter or magazine. Build relationships with reporters who cover your industry and pitch your members as experts for upcoming articles.
Give thanks. Sometimes a verbal acknowledgement is the best way to show appreciation. Remember to say thank you.
A little bit of appreciation goes a long way toward member satisfaction and should be an integral part of your membership strategy.
Diane Webster is an account executive overseeing association operations, governance and events for more than 20 years. If you would like to leverage CMA Association Management’s experience, we would love to chat. Please contact us at 800.852.4269 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.