Belonging is More Than a Transaction
- Member of the Month – Sharing a picture with a quick bio on your site can be a great, free recognition tool for anything from uber-volunteers to welcoming a new member. You can align who you recognize with the member segments that your organization has prioritized in its strategy, and for those just coming to your organization for the first time, they will see that individuals are recognized within the larger membership.
Quarter in Review in Pictures – Take a look at your organization’s calendar over the next quarter. Include everything you are running – from conferences, leadership meetings, educational sessions, or hill days, and include those events that are taking place locally, as well. If you were able to get one, captivating photograph from each of those events, you could assemble at the end of each quarter a presentation/publication capturing the accomplishments of your organization through the eyes of its members. Ask for pictures, recognize who takes them, and utilize social media streams like Instagram and Facebook to find those authentic, member engagement moments at your association activities.
- Community Highlights – Associations that have a private, social community can still provide insight into the activity and value taking place past the firewall by recogniing on the organization's public site those that are leading key converations. Some organizations will even share the topic areas under discussion - though members then have to sign in to see the full dialogue or learning piece.
2. Meeting Connections
Attending your association's conference can be a make or break experience, where a member can walk away energized with an expanded network or having not had a single meaningful conversation. As associations program the top-notch content that will help develop their industry professionals, they should be giving similar priority to helping create easier connections between colleagues. Here are a few approaches:
- Who's at the Meeting? - While a meeting can be a powerful networking experience, they can also be overwhelming for those who get past the registration table and are suddenly in the sea of thousands of colleagues, perhaps without knowing anyone else in attendance. Throughout the course of the meeting, with a smartphone and a volunteer or two, you can help bridge that gap. Ask the volunteers to download a live video app (I prefer Periscope) and provide them with 10-15 quick, simple questions. The volunteers can go around the conference, stopping a participant and asking if they can interview them for a few minutes. The video is live and connected to your social media feed, and it gives an authentic face and voice to the wide range of members in attendance. Better yet, the videos can then be uploaded to a dedicated YouTube channel and you will walk away with a bank of member profiles to tag and share for future meeting marketing. This is a great volunteer activity for young professionals.
- First-Timer Orientation – While many organizations hold such a session, often it consists of new attendees sitting around a table, saying their name, and then a volunteer leader or staff reading through the schedule of the conference or perhaps that benefits that come with membership. The orientation session is the opportunity to make those first, meaningful connections that can be the start of longer conversations and shared learning. Use the time to run a dynamic ice breaker or two, where conversation is encouraged. Identify a number of key industry trend areas and allow first timers to choose their topic for group think time. Perhaps most importantly, at some point during the first timer session encourage two attendees to set a ‘later date’ when they will get back together at the conference.
- Deep Thoughts – Polaroid cameras may not be today’s technology, but the instant snapshot is. As each of your sessions end, have staff on hand to grab an attendee or two and ask for a key point learned or a question that remains. Take their picture, their business card, and their deep thought written out on a business card and place it on a public deep thought wall. Other attendees can be encouraged to reach out and connect with these members, and their thoughts can be collected, shared, and recognized after the conference as a means of ongoing content.