Recruiting Members For Keeps – Webinar Highlights

Lori Halley 02 January 2015 0 comments

Earlier this month, we held our second Expert Webinar led by Patricia Hudson of the Melos Institute. The December 11th session was so popular that due to high registration (we had 647 registrants!) and some technical issues, we weren’t able to accommodate all of the registrants. So Trish kindly offered up a repeat performance on December 17th. This meant that altogether, close to 300 attendees participated in the webinar.

The hour-long session helped us re-frame our thinking about membership recruitment and also offered practical ideas for more effective membership development strategies. As Trish suggested:

Recruiting new members is so much more than “selling” a membership. How you view them and the way you recruit has a direct impact on the way new members participate…and whether or not they renew. Making simple changes to your perspective and the recruitment conversation can make all the difference. 

For those of you who weren’t able to attend, here are some highlights from the Recruiting Members For Keeps webinar.

My webinar “ah-ha” moments

Here are the key learnings or “ah-ha” moments I had listening to Trish’s presentation:

  • Member recruitment is so much more than “selling a membership”
  • Membership gives members access “into an extraordinary Community” – offering members what they want most:
    • the ability to make meaningful and purposeful connections that address specific needs
    • sharing and exchanging information – learning from others, developing new ideas, and sharing valuable lessons
  • Recruitment has to transcend the traditional transactional experience  – it must become relation-centered where members develop a vertical relationship with the organization, but more importantly horizontal relationships with fellow members.
  • When we think of members as customers, we unintentionally treat them like customers. As a result, they respond by acting as such – passively waiting for the next communication – and evaluating it solely through a customer’s lens (e.g. value for cost). Better to think of members as citizens of a dynamic community; becoming fully invested by enjoying the rights and privileges as well as the duties and obligations that come with membership.
  • When competing organizations offer the same programs, products and services, as management specialist Michael Porter suggests, attention focuses solely on cost.
  • To retain members and keep them engaged, we need to understand that membership is a developmental process rather than a marketing strategy. This means taking steps to admit and accept members; and then help them advance by participating in ways that align with their personal and professional goals or aspirations. Recruitment is but the first step to that process; it must be immediately followed by welcoming and orientating strategies that help members understand and help them get the most out of their membership
  • Remember that active members often unexpectedly gain:
    • a social identity that can only be affirmed from their peers
    • a pride, legitimacy & respect for their field of endeavor
    • a safe space to take risks without fear of retribution
    • an opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways
  • Ways that members want to participate:
    • Make purposeful connections
    • Achieve individual goals
    • Contribute skills, expertise, talents to advance their field of endeavor
    • Provide direct support to fellow members
    • Advance their chosen field of endeavor

What steps can you take to get started?

Along with advising participants to shift their thinking and approach from “selling memberships” to a “relation-centered membership approach,” Trish also offered some practical tips for how this can be implemented. This involves:

  1. Capturing member stories – nothing is more effective than using real-life inspirational stories from other members to help prospective members understand how they can benefit in similar ways through participation in the organization.
  2. Creating a recruitment guide – helps prepare recruiters to be more confident and effective - understand what questions to ask and how to start building the relationship.
  3. Re-framing the recruitment conversation – focusing first on listening in order to “make matches” specific to the prospect’s needs, goals or aspirations. Instead of “trying to sell” the value of the organization, find out the member’s goals and aspirations, share stories of how others have benefited in similar ways, and recommend specific matches to the programs and activities that are immediately responsive.

    • Consider interviewing prospective members instead of selling to them by asking three simple questions:
      • “What can you tell me about yourself”
        Listen and learn more about their backgrounds, accomplishments, and key values.
      • “What’s important to you - to what do you aspire?”
        Then share how others have benefited and suggest ways they can reach their goals through participation in specific programs, products or services.
      • “What other key concerns do you have about the profession/cause?”
        Then suggest additional connections that can be of support now or in the future (getting members further involved and less prone to become passive or disenchanted with the organization). 

What does it take to recruit members for keeps?

Trish Hudson suggests that recruiting members who will get involved and remain engaged, involves:

  • Understanding, approaching and treating members as citizens
  • Recognizing, leveraging and maximizing the vertical and horizontal connections that exist
    • with the organization
    • between and among members
  • Recognizing that the membership represents a vast member talent pool – inevitably the membership-based organization’s greatest member benefit
  • Focusing on membership development as being able to deliver an extraordinary and individualized experience to every member; accomplished through specific actions that teach members (an alternative type of orientation) to make the most of their membership
  • Focusing the recruitment conversation first on learning prospective members’  goals/aspirations and then matching those to specific programs, products or services  --- or fellow members that could be of immediate support
  • Finding ways to forge social bonds among members in one-on-one or group settings. These connections have proven to be the most powerful to ensure renewals

Full Webinar Video, Slide Presentation and Resources

You can watch the full 1-hour video or check out the SlideShare presentation – here.

For the resources and tools (including sample orientation and recruitment guides) noted by Trish in the presentation, you can visit the Melos Institute’s website and take a look at the highlighted resources here: 

More Expert Webinars Coming Soon

In January, our Expert Webinar will be:  Tools for More Effective Board Meetings, led by Rick Let (Meetings For Results), author of Meeting for Results Tool Kit: Make Your Meetings Work. This session is on Wed. Jan. 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM (EST).

For information on future Expert Webinars coming in 2015, check out our webinar page.

Image source:  Group of ... people teamwork – courtesy of  

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 02 January 2015 at 9:28 AM

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