How To Make New Members Feel Welcome
Think about the last time you joined something — a social network, a fitness club, a rewards program. Chances are that the on-boarding process, which started from the very moment you committed, made you feel valued and like part of the family. This is no coincidence, and it’s something your association should prioritize for successful membership engagement.
Making new members feel welcomed is essential to creating a positive experience for your association’s greatest strength (your members), and it’s essential to creating an early positive opinion about your association. The key here is early — and the age-old adage, “first impressions are the most lasting,” holds currency when members reflect on their experience as part of a community.
Associations should think carefully about how they want to make new members feel welcomed. Here are some pro-tips on how to make it happen.
Gratitude goes a long way
The decision to join an association can be either a no-brainer or require careful contemplation, especially in consumer markets saturated with endless options. Nevertheless, joining your association is a decision that was consciously made. For this reason, it’s essential that you express gratitude and thank each and every new member for seeing the potential value in what you have to offer them. Early in your new relationship, send a personalized thank you email or letter that lets new members know you appreciate their vote of confidence and their commitment to your association’s mission, vision and values.
It seems simple, right? It is! And doing so is a great first-touch at letting new members know they’re not just a cog in the machine, but in fact they are very valued.
Welcome to the family — here’s what we have to offer you!
When a new member joins your association, don’t assume they know everything you have to offer them. It might be that they actually joined for a very specific reason: maybe your hours of operation, a particular series of events, access to educational resources. Take the opportunity and the initiative to let them know that your association is diverse and amazing in what it has to offer. A simple email or a short onboarding video detailing the range of benefits you’re offering them can go a long way in getting new members to see the extra value in their new community.
Encourage involvement when opportunities abound
Members not only want to know what their membership offers them, but they also want to know how they can give back to their new community. Let them know about volunteer opportunities — such as committees, fundraising, lobby and facilitation roles — that require a variety of skill sets and will help your association’s success. By doing so, new members who take up the opportunity to get involved and will build a deeper connection with your association’s mission, and they’ll connect on a deeper level with other individuals who are passionate and share similar interests. Experiment with sharing opportunities on your website and social media, and be ready to mentor as well as explain expectations and roles for each volunteer.
Facilitate engagement and community between members
Having new members want to get involved with your association through volunteering is a beautiful thing. What’s also beautiful is seeing new members engage with their new community on their own terms. Through a common bond to an association, members can establish organic connections built on shared interests and mutual chemistry. You can help facilitate this type of engagement. Try establishing an online community through social media — and experiment with starting new threads or subgroups based on unique topics relevant to your initiatives or the issues being faced by your members. You can also organize local events — such as a coffee house meetups — based around the geographic distribution of your members. Lastly, you could create a listserv, discussion forums etc. that let members communicate with other members en masse. Through each of these methods, members can share updates of news, events, personal triumphs and challenges that will further strengthen the community.
Where’s the love? Celebrate new members
It’s likely that your association— through newsletters, monthly or annual award ceremonies — make an effort to celebrate the accomplishments of long-standing members. Think of the Academy Honorary Award given out on Oscar night. Yes, celebrating the remarkable achievements of long-standing members is important; but, it’s also important not to forget that new members should be celebrated as well. Organizations can experiment with this idea by introducing and celebrating new members through written or recorded video interviews shared online and by e-newsletter, website and social network.
The choice to welcome, educate, connect and celebrate new members doesn’t require many extra resources — it just takes some planning and a little bit of extra effort. Yet the benefits, such as creating positive first impressions and the likelihood of creating a deeper connection to your association are worth every drop of energy. Try the tips above and experience first-hand the success that comes from making new members feel welcomed.