Is your organization offering a “meaningful and transformative experience” for your members? And is this experience well communicated and available to those who have yet to join?
In April I read a SocialFish post by guest blogger Ryan Crowe. He offered a candid opinion of associations from the perspective of a self-described “freshly minted “real person” – leaving grad school in May.” While I found his post - Dissociation: Associations and the Reality of Irrelevance - truly thought-provoking, I decided that rather than respond to it myself, I’d bring it to the attention of Patricia Hudson (of the Melos Institute) a regular contributor to our blog and Hub. But before I had the chance, Trish had already read the post, followed-up with Ryan and written an article in response – What We All Can Learn About Membership From Ryan Crowe – which is now available in our Membership Knowledge Hub.
Ryan’s post “should raise some red flags”
In her article, Trish cautions that “[a]s association professionals, we might dismiss Ryan’s experience and advice thinking he doesn’t realize all the efforts that are in place to reach him. He probably hasn’t noticed what might very well be right in front of him."
But Trish suggests, "[t]o do that would be a mistake. It would perpetuate the myth that our presence is well-known and name recognized. How do we know this myth exists? When we see the reaction from family and friends when we try to explain what we do. The blank stares…the quizzical looks….the total absence of recognition.”
And it’s not just about how to recruit the next generation. As Trish notes, while “[Ryan’s] observations are being ascribed to that of a younger generation. With all due respect, for those of us who have been working in the membership development trenches for decades, we recognize that his feelings are universal; they span across time and generational lines. But that’s just a distraction from the real issue which is whether or not we are willing to take a sobering look at the impact our actions are having on building vibrant and welcoming membership communities? And if so, what are we willing to do about it?”
What can you do about it?
The article offers some suggestions on what you can do to get started...
1. Get Real:
Get out of the bubble – meaning the boundaries you operate in where everyone you work with (members included) knows about you. It’s not real.
2. Get Perspective:
Understand the distinctive nature of associations and their role in our society to affect change. Today’s technology enables us to personalize members’ experiences as never before AND discover the expertise they can contribute to achieve the association’s goals.
3. Get Re-Inspired:
Remember the feeling you had in the early days of your career as an association professional? Every experience was new. Every interaction was novel. Every event was a thrill to behold. Years later, much of this has become repetitive for you. But not for those who are learning about you for the first time. And not for those members who come yearning for a WOW experience.
4. Get Inventive:
Explore how embracing a relation-centered versus a transactional model for association management can make the difference.
The article offers suggestions on what you can do to capture and maintain the attention of potential new members…along with links to additional information and tools.
Want to read the full article?
If you’d like to read Trish’s article, you can access it through our Membership Knowledge Hub – here.
Photo source: Members only restricted access from BIGSTOCK