Association leaders recognize the challenges of today's landscape when it comes to building a strong, collaborative community of like-minded individuals. Competition for membership can be tight; many associations are attempting to attract the same individual. In order to stand out from the rest, leaders must effectively recruit, retain, and engage their members.
To do this requires a swiss army knife of attraction — being efficient and effective on branding, social media marketing, event planning, and educational opportunities will all benefit attracting more members to the association.
In their 2018 publication of Looking Forward, the Association Laboratory points out that "86% of association executives believed that membership acquisition, retention and engagement was the most serious association strategy issue."
When it comes to strategy, the best associations know what matters most to their members. This article will focus on ways to do just that.
For associations to continue growth, they need to recruit and retain effectively each year. An excellent way to do this is by staying relevant. By bringing in speakers that are "must hear" on topics that are fresh and topical will pique interest for new members to join. Also, by providing plenty of opportunities for networking throughout the year, this will entice even more people to join.
When it comes to retention, put yourself in the member's shoes. Have there been enough opportunities and outreach to know what the members are looking for? A newsletter may work for some, while others want to see more local chapter peer group meetups. Even investing in a new technology that makes it easier for members to register for events, or renew is a good tactic to employ.
At its core, associations serve as an educational opportunity for its members to stay in the loop regarding new procedures and information. Whether it's staying up to date with nanotechnology, ways to recognize signs of opioid abuse, or an ethical debate on stem cells, Associations are the go-to place for resources.
Further, providing access to mentors will allow members to not only gain higher insight but also provide a chance to collaborate with them. This can be very critical to the start of a young professional's career.
For a lot of members, the reason to join is purely networking, and career development focused. For young professionals just starting in their field, joining an association can be an essential first step in making connections and taking the next leap in their career.
What some don't realize is the effectiveness associations can have on individual careers. But it's the association leader's responsibility to ensure they're staying connected with their members. As Jeffrey E. Barnhart, President and CEO of CMA Association Management states, "Ultimately, by staying in tune with member needs, associations can adapt to changing environments and firmly implant themselves as essential career development partners.
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