Thursday, December 5, 2013

Euchre, Small Groups and Engaging Association Members

Can a card game increase member engagement?

Well, it was euchre that engaged us with Pelican Preserve and gave us connection, fellowship and engagement with other snow birds here. And, I’m convinced that euchre and its friendships, represents the primary connecting in moving here.

We experienced the same connection with our church and its small groups. They became the key strategy in engaging members.

As I reflected on this, it reminded me that the initial connections members have with their associations determine whether they remain with their association. That experience might come at a chapter meeting or a national conference. 

The problem is that most volunteer leaders and association staff suffer from the “curse of knowledge” ... it has been so long since you were a new member or first time attendee, that you can’t remember what it is like and thus probably don’t consider strategies and tactics to ensure a great first time experience.

Think about how you felt. You knew no one. You didn’t know the customs, expectations or dress code. You searched for a familiar face. 

For many, this is an overwhelming feeling. 

For the association,this is show time: you either connect with this person or they are likely to depart and not renew.

It is so easy for a first timer to get lost ... especially in a large association or at a large event.

It’s nice when associations provide them with “new member” or “first time attendee” ribbons and perhaps even host a “first timers” reception. 

But, that really doesn’t go far enough to really engage and connect with them.

Developing experiences that engage and connect new members or first time attendees is not just a “membership department” issue. It is a strategic decision for the entire organization.

And, smart organizations create small groups or other ways to make a positive, welcoming experience for new members and first time attendees.

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