Building and sustaining rapport between the member and the organization have always been the result of effective engagement practices. Member engagement is more powerful than ever before because of the effect of technology on the cost of doing so. Organizations will typically make use of conferences, eBooks, email, articles and whitepapers to maintain a level of engagement with members. To maintain memberships, rapport through engagement is key.
Today, membership organizations must change archaic approaches to member engagement. Since the member has access to so many sources of value, it becomes incumbent upon the organization to provide an outside-in rather than an inside-out approach to member engagement. Three primary areas to consider for doing so are:
- Focusing on member results
- Build and manage authentic relationships
- Take advantage of the power of a the collaborative community
Although technology provides access to sources of value for the member, that same technology affords organizations with access to the many tools needed to leverage a meaningful connection with the membership. Using data provided by the membership enables the organization to make informed decisions regarding the needs of the membership and discover opportunities to better serve them.
Forms of Engagement
Certainly, engagement should not be considered a solitary event and over-engaging can be harmful as well. Presenting a regular means of resources to your membership need not become a constant in-your-face form of communication rather, subtle touches and offerings throughout the year are most appropriate and welcomed by the membership. The majority of members are there for the value of the resource your organization offers but are unlikely to access that value every day. Knowing this, the organization should manage their engagement efforts to meet the needs of the membership, not the organization.
Typically, a member that considers the organization to be similar to a community is more likely to continue their membership and rely on the resources provided. Those who feel no sense of community or a lack of rapport are more likely to fade. How your product or service empowers the member or resolves an issue or problem in their life will determine if they are there for one issue or many. It will also determine if they are there for past, current or expected issues at some point in the future.
Establish the Process
Fortunately, any organization can implement processes to perform needed engagement activities and schedule them in any manner that seems appropriate. In fact, a simple survey done on a seldom basis can generate the data needed to determine how frequently an engagement activity should take place. Most consumers answer survey questions honestly because of the anonymity that is afforded to them. Using the survey data helps the organization determine the appropriate frequency of engagement activity. Holding conferences and retreats because a high-ranking member of the organization thinks it is a good idea is not sufficient reason to do so. The organization must always take into consideration the needs of its membership first and the needs of the organization second.
Making use of available software platforms should be your first step in setting up a program to engage the membership. The first place to start your research is Cogran Systems where you’ll discover the membership platforms necessary to meet the needs of your organization.