Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Associations and Newbies

As part of our relocation to Fort Myers, Florida, we’ve been looking for a church.

Our experience helps me realize what it must feel like to be searching for an association to join and/or what it is like to be a first-time conference attendee.

Finding a place

We began our search by Googling churches in the area. We were looking for denominations, location, programming. Is Google your front door too?
Initial visit

After selecting a few local churches from our Google search, we started attending to get a sense if we “fit” and “felt welcome.”

  • First, we attended a large non-denominational church. Very contemporary. But, very cold. Don’t think anyone greeted us. We attended twice. No one followed up.
  • Next, we attended a fairly small church of the same denomination as our church in St. Louis. A formal welcome at the front door. But, it stopped there. We went twice, then stopped. No one followed up.
  • This week, we attended an “average sized” church of a different denomination. Very friendly. Greeters at the door and welcome center. A member jumped in and showed us around the church. Introduced us to the ministers. After church several members greeted us and welcomed us. 

Evaluating whether to join

We’re continuing our search and hoping to narrow it. The “coldness” of the first two knocked them off the last. The friendliness of the last one is pretty compelling. 

What about your association?

When was the last time you Googled yourself? What do you find? If you were looking to join, would your association “come up?” How does it look? Inviting? Informative? Easy to find?

What is your program for first-time attendees? Are they welcomed? Do they get an orientation on how to get the most from your meeting? Do they feel welcome? 

This is really hard, but you need to look at your association from the eyes of a first-timer. After all, that’s how we are seeing you!

1 comment:

  1. Great post and an excellent point for associations and small businesses, as well as churches. As you know, Corey's job is connections coordinator at our church. Although the gathering has a team of volunteer greeters, she's the staff person inside the sanctuary talking with new people and introducing them to staff and other members. It's a critical job, because greeting someone isn't enough -- they need to be engaged.

    It's great to have association board members and volunteers who will send a welcome email to a member, but someone has to be in charge of following up with that new member and getting them involved. Who's doing that in your association?