Are You Engaging with Members or Putting Everything on Hold?

Updated: Sep. 22, 2020  |  Categories: Membership, Decreasing Membership  

Are You Engaging with Members or Putting Everything on Hold?

With so many on work from home schedules and unemployment high, your members are finding themselves with more free time. Some of them with significantly more. All those things they’d do in a normal day or week, like working, going to the gym, eating out, networking, etc. are in a different format, cancelled, or postponed.

From what we hear from our clients, board responses to this new routine fall into two primary categories:

  1. Chapters doing what they can to continue to fully engage members. This group is going “all in,” getting creative to provide what their members need right now.
  2. Chapters taking a wait and see attitude. This group is delaying events and pausing operations until the fall when they revisit their situation.

Now is the time to provide more value online

Your members need the services and the camaraderie of your chapter more than ever. They’re concerned about their own well-being, as well as that of their families and their employees. How are they going to pay their bills, or continue to network to find their next job, or have the chance to interact with like-minded people?

We don’t believe now is the time to put things off, so we’ve pulled together a few easy things chapters can incorporate into their planning to keep members involved and provide some of what they need to stay sane. (If you’re reading this after some of the pandemic restrictions have loosened, these are relevant ideas you can still use, especially if your chapter covers a large geographic area, or you’re just looking for ways to interact with members and offer your members some new opportunities.)

Update your job board & your chapter forum. With so many people losing their jobs, having their hours cut or being furloughed, it’s even more important to keep members aware of available job opportunities. Keep your job board up to date and make it easy for members to connect with those with openings and for those with openings to connect with the right candidates. In addition to your job board, make your forum available for members to discuss issues related to their current situations, and give them a safe space to talk to others who are going through similar things.

Hold virtual networking events and happy hours. These are zero cost opportunities that can provide high value, both for members and the chapter. These events should be bigger than multi-person zoom calls with everyone talking over each other. Make yours stand out by giving your virtual events some structure. Use polling to ask relevant, timely questions and have breakout sessions to discuss topics members find important right now, like managing remotely and looking for work during a pandemic.

Provide relevant speakers for online events. What kinds of issues are your members attempting to navigate right now? Perhaps there are legislative issues that require insight from an expert, but this could also be a good time for you to hold virtual events with speakers that can help with soft skill development or resume building and networking.

These days, it may be easier to get the volunteer help you need. In addition to having more free time, many of your members may also be concerned about money. They may be more apt to step forward to volunteer if you offer something in return for volunteering, like free entrance to the virtual speaker event or resume review assistance.

Doing nothing isn’t the right direction. Be cognizant of where your members are and provide the support they need, now. Ignoring their needs is doing them a disservice. It’s important to continue to facilitate the conversations and activities that allow members to feel like your chapter is exactly where they need to be, even if virtually. Support them, give them opportunities to connect, and provide the resources they need. Make it your mission to help them now or they won’t be around later, and then you could find yourself dealing with retention issues.

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