Don’t overwhelm your new members with too much too soon. Here’s how to onboard and engage them with a steady, manageable stream of information, not a flood.
When a new member joins an association, there’s often a rush to deliver too much information. The resulting email overload doesn’t make the best impression, says Nancy Burke, CAE, vice president of the Direct Selling Association.
Rather than inundate, DSA engages new members frequently across the span of a year, making small but meaningful connections. “We have constant outreach, so they become a part of the culture, and it shows that we are able to provide value,” Burke says. Here are her three tips for welcoming new members with a steady, manageable stream of communication, rather than a flood.
1. Develop a 60-day checklist. A plan for outreach—emails, phone calls, and mailings—in the first two months helps to ensure consistency. “Renewal and retention start on day one,” Burke says. “A checklist can help you track how you’re reaching out and listening to the member.”
2. Play matchmaker. DSA often pairs up new members for one-on-one conversations aimed at problem solving. It’s part of a “pay-it-forward culture,” Burke says. All members, even the newest ones, are called upon to confront industry challenges through collaboration.
3. Focus on the first meeting. This is often a make-or-break opportunity to forge a positive relationship with a new member. “At this moment, you want them to enter with excitement and exit with more connections and resources,” Burke says. New-member receptions, a conference-buddy system, meet-and-greets with volunteers, and a postconference call or webinar can be great ways to break the ice and maximize the moment.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Rules of Engagement: Hold Back the Flood."]