Building Community and Engagement with Member Networking
Building Community and Engagement with Member Networking
Associations understand how important it is to recruit more members and keep their community engaged for the long term. With an active community, your association can thrive and help make a difference in your industry. To captivate professionals in your field, there has never been a better time to lean into member networking.
According to the Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, networking with other professionals in their field is the most common reason people join associations. Through member networking, you can provide your community with valuable resources like membership directories and mentorship programs. These connections help members grow their skills, careers, and networks.
We’ll show you how to create member networking opportunities that will engage your community, satisfy members, and inspire more professionals to join your association.
What is Member Networking?
Member networking involves meeting people in the same field or industry as yourself to form relationships that can propel your professional development, education, and career.
Forming these relationships can help professionals:
- Build a community: Grow a network of like-minded individuals to turn to for advice and encouragement.
- Develop industry skills: Learn valuable skills from courses and programs led by experienced members.
- Learn the latest industry trends: Discover evolving industry trends and hear how other members navigate them.
- Find a new job opportunity: Hear about the latest job openings and potentially get interviews arranged by members looking to fill these roles.
- Discover job candidates: Meet potential candidates for open positions from engaged industry professionals who are committed to their professional growth.
- Meet reliable clients: Become introduced to clients that other members have connections with.
- Match with a mentor or mentee: Find another professional to form a meaningful mentorship relationship.
By understanding your members’ specific goals, you can provide networking opportunities that keep them engaged and invested in your association.
Benefits of Member Networking
Providing member networking isn’t just valuable for your community. By offering networking opportunities to members, your association can:
- Attract new members: Member networking activities can entice industry professionals to join your association.
- Retain current members: Through providing member networking, your community can enjoy additional value from their membership and stay involved for the long run.
- Boost its reputation: Highlight the benefits that your association offers through your investment in your members.
- Increase word-of-mouth marketing: With engaging activities and resources, your satisfied members will discuss your association and its value with their circle of contacts.
To attract potential members, you can also open up some of your networking events to non-members or encourage current members to bring a friend. After non-members attend your events, they will likely be interested in learning more and joining.
Creating Member Networking Opportunities
There are plenty of ways associations can facilitate member networking. Popular options include:
- Building a member directory: Create an online directory all your members, their contact information, and a few details about their experience for your members to access.
- Running happy hours: Providing a virtual happy or or a special networking-focused event at your conference or chapter event will allow your members to get to to know each other in a stress-free environment.
- Hosting speed networking: This spin on speed-dating has members quickly meeting with each other to start exchanging information and building connections.
- Organizing conferences: Through holding a conference, you can have sessions led by industry experts and experienced members for your community to attend.
- Setting up a mentorship program: Develop a mentorship program where your community can form their own mentor-mentee relationships and hold mentorship sessions.
- Creating volunteer opportunities: Help your members contribute to a meaningful cause while spending time together.
When determining which networking events will best appeal to your members, you can send surveys to gauge your community’s interests.
Example of Association Member Networking
To inspire your member network planning, let’s take a look at how the American Marketing Association (AMA) manages its member community and events. The AMA is the world’s largest community-based marketing association with more than 65 professional chapters in North America and over 320 collegiate chapters around the world.
This association offers tools, training, and a robust community to help members advance their careers and strengthen the marketing industry. In addition to exclusive resources like journals, playbooks, and webinars, each chapter organizes member events for their local community.
The AMA Albany chapter, for example, hosts regular morning coffee chats at a cafe where members can network and enjoy beverages. Furthermore, the Colorado chapter offers adventurous events for members, such as a hiking club that combines the thrill of outdoor exploration with networking for a truly memorable event.
As seen with the AMA, there are countless ways you can connect with your members while providing them with meaningful and enjoyable member experiences. Consider what events you can regularly hold, like a coffee chat, as well as events that will require more resources and preparation, such as a panel discussion.
Promoting Networking Opportunities for Members
Now that you are ready to develop a robust member networking program for your association, you will need to create a promotional plan for these activities.
On your association’s website, you can add your networking opportunities along with your other member benefits. This way, current and prospective members can explore the various ways a membership can help them advance their skills and connect with others in the association.
Creating a calendar of networking events lets your community learn about upcoming activities, make time for them, and register. Be sure to make online event registration easy and event payment information clear. Also, send out reminders for registered members before events begin with information like webinar access details and conference locations.
Promote upcoming networking events and opportunities in your social media posts to get current members excited about attending and entice prospective members to join. If you are hosting a conference, for instance, you can share pictures of speakers and complimentary merchandise for attendees to drum up interest.
Your social media is also a great space for sharing pictures of your events once they end to demonstrate their success. Encourage attendees to comment about their experience, share their pictures, and welcome questions from people interested in attending future events.
Spread the word about upcoming member networking events by sharing them in your email newsletter. With an email campaign, you can entice your members to attend by detailing information about the event such as its theme, notable attendees, and registration instructions across several emails.
Use Surveys to Optimize Member Engagement
To optimize your member networking activities, check in with your members by regularly sending surveys for their feedback. This will ensure that you are providing them with the types of networking opportunities they value the most and are continuously tailoring future events with their preferences in mind.
You can ask your members for feedback about:
- How much they enjoyed the networking event
- What could have been improved
- What other events they would be interested in
- What industry topics they would like covered
With post-event surveys, you can refine your membership program and show your members that you care about their feedback.
Through member networking, your community can make lasting and beneficial professional connections that help them grow their skills and advance their careers. By offering networking opportunities, like conferences and mentorship programs, you’ll ensure that professionals will be excited to join your association, stay active, and contribute to the community’s success.
AMR is an accredited association management company (AMC) providing a wide range of services including strategic leadership support, financial management, event planning, member relations, marketing, communications, program management, information technology services and general administration. Looking for help with your association? Get In Touch With Us Today!
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