Tag Archives: educational events

Welcoming New Association Members

Welcome

How much time, effort and money does your Association spend on recruiting new members? Probably quite a bit! To ensure that all these efforts pay off, you want to make sure to take the right steps to make your members feel welcome!

 
Once a new member has been sourced and approved, it is important that they are given a good first impression of the Association. Experienced board members and long time members likely know their association inside out. But keep in mind – your new members don’t! It is important to provide new members with all relevant information about the association. To guide them through new territory but also to leave that sparkling first impression. It will give them reassurance about their decision to join.
But what information is helpful to a new member? The membership chair or committee should welcome new members; either personally by giving them a phone call or sending them a welcoming letter. New members should also be recognized by name at your Chapter events during the President’s welcoming comments.

 
It is highly recommended to have a membership package, that can be personalized and sent to each newly signed up member. Although many associations have adapted to sending most communication electronically, sending a paper copy of the welcoming package via mail is recommended. It looks professional and will likely be appreciated by your members!

 
Membership packages should include the following
1. Personalized Welcome Letter – written and signed by the Chapter’s President and Membership Chair
2. Log In Information for the association’s website (if applicable) – this should include information on how to set up, personalize and change their online profile, how to pay their member dues, how to register for events online, how to connect with other members through the member portal and how to generally take advantage of other sections your website might have (e.g. news sections, discussion forums, picture gallery, event archives, etc)
3. A clear outline of Membership Requirements – for example information on when to renew their membership, on how to earn continuing education credits or other association participation standards that are required in order to maintain their membership.
4. Legal Documents – such as the Society Act or any other codes of conduct, standards of practice or insurance requirements that may apply to your association and that new members should be informed of.
5. Member Benefits Package – It is important that new members are fully aware of all of the benefits associated with their membership. This may include member discounts to events, invitations to members-only events, access to special seminars, specific online or printed publications, mentorship programs, etc.
6. Information on the Association’s History – although the new member has probably done a bit of research before joining the association, it is recommended to provide something about the association’s background and history in writing. This could be a small pamphlet or flyer for example. It is always good to outline and emphasize the association’s vision and goals.
7. Information about WHERE TO GET HELP! It is important for your members to know who they can contact if they have any questions, concerns or problems (for example registering for an event, or cancelling an event registration, etc). Make sure your administrator and support staff’s contact information is clearly displayed!
It is also recommended to list your association’s Board of Directors. Outline their responsibilities and include their email-addresses and/or phone numbers, so members can contact them for more specific questions.

How to Plan and Execute a Successful Event

Make sure to create a list and check it twice! Good organization and a detailed timeline is key to executing a successful event!

1 – Create a realistic timeline: The planning process for a medium sized event (between 50 and 200 attendees) is about 8 weeks from start to finish. (That excludes your venue booking – which usually has to be done 6 months up to 1 year prior to the actual event date!)

2 – Set up online-registration: Using online registration saves you AND the event registrant an immense amount of time. The system should collect payment and generate receipts and confirmation emails upon registration. It is important that the system is user-friendly, so you don’t lose potential attendees due to a complicated sign-up process.

3 – Market your event: Start marketing your event about 6 to 7 weeks prior to the event. All relevant information such as location, time, cost, speaker/s or presenter/s, sponsor/s and registration & cancellation deadlines will need to be confirmed at this point.
Make sure you have an efficient marketing strategy in place: email the event invitation to your database, update your website and have your Social Media campaigns set up.
About half way through the promotion process, send press releases to local newspapers and contact the local media to promote your event (radio stations or TV channels).

4 – Communicate with the venue: Select your final menu about 2-3 weeks prior to the event. Confirm room set up, AV requirements, guest rooms if applicable and other relevant information. Make sure to update the venue on your guest numbers regularly. Final numbers are usually due 2 business days before the event. At that time, communicate all dietary restrictions and special meal requests you have collected (through your online-registration system).

5 – Remind your event attendees: The day before the event, send a reminder email to all registrants. Include main information such as time and location (including address and name of the specific room the event takes place in) but also general information on parking or public transit options.

6 – Check your list: Make sure to arrive at the venue with plenty of time to set up your registration area, check the room, connect with the hotel staff and banquet manager, set up your AV equipment and pour yourself a last cup of coffee. You’ll be busy executing a very successful event for the next few hours!

7 – Wrap it up: Make sure to tie up all loose ends before putting your event ad acta: Update your database with all walk-ins and no-shows. Collect outstanding payments, follow up with potential new members, give productive feedback to the hotel, send out surveys to the attendees and a thanking letter to all speakers and sponsors.

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How To Engage Your Association Members

The success of an association is based on the strength and satisfaction of its membership. What does your organization have to offer to its members and supporters? Educational and social networking events? A monthly newsletter? Great – but that’s likely not enough to keep your followers engaged. Time to think outside of the box and get creative. Here are a few tips on how to engage your association members better:

1 – Create a Blog: Every successful business has a blog to promote their industry events and discuss the latest industry news. So should your association: a regularly updated blog allows your members and followers to give their opinions and start a discussion with their industry colleagues. Whereas a newsletter only reaches the people in your database, a blog allows you to reach a broader audience. Another benefit: If people find your blog valuable, they can share it to their social media network. And by doing that, they help you increase your followers.

Can’t keep up with the posts? Invite your association’s members, sponsors or other industry partners to write guest blog posts. They will be happy to help if that gives them the chance to showcase themselves or the company they work for. Who does not like some free advertising?

2 – Showcase your members: Feature a “member of the month” on either your website or blog. Allow your members to submit nominations by highlighting outstanding achievements or exceptional contributions within your industry.

3 – Use Webinars & Videos: Engage your members by offering free weekly or monthly webinars. Ask your sponsors and other volunteers to come up with content that is relevant to the membership. Again, it gives industry experts the chance to showcase themselves through your channel.
Do your members need to collect CE credits? Participating in those webinars can be an alternative to visiting your annual conference or continuing education events.
Did you have a great guest speaker providing expert insight at your last event? Video or audio tape his presentation and make it available exclusively to your members in your members-only online portal.

4 – Start discussions on your Social media channels: Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread valuable industry news, but also to get people talking: Ask a simple question, or post an article to trigger a discussion within your audience. Show them that their input and opinion is important to you.

5 – Get personal: This is probably the hardest, but yet the most effective way of engaging your members: pick up the phone and connect with people!
There are a number of reasons to connect on a personal level with your membership or partners: a personal invite to an upcoming event, to congratulate on a member’s work or membership anniversary, to express gratitude and to thank a supporter for their recent sponsorship or donation, a reminder about an upcoming membership renewal, a personal call to someone who has not been to an event in a while or who has not renewed their membership. Making a personal connection is a great way of expressing that you care about your members and partners. And that can make all the difference.

By Patricia Tait, Account Manager

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