After more than two years of upheavals and evolutions in how we work, interact, and live, the dust finally appears to be settling. Association leaders are looking for ways to continue to engage, support, and grow membership. They’re thinking about what members want in the post-pandemic world and what it will take to maintain association member value.
Let’s take a look at some best practices for providing association member value.
First, it’s important to understand what resources your organization could provide for your members throughout each stage in their careers.
Members for Life: Fueling the Journey from Student to Retiree
Students and new graduates typically focus on finding internships and becoming part of student associations. They are starting to utilize job boards for internship opportunities – a resource your organization can provide and become their go-to early on. Members at this career stage are also searching for continuing education, such as skills training and certification opportunities. Ensure you’re utilizing a top-notch learning management system (LMS) to drive your learning programs.
Early careerists are diving into searching and applying for jobs, so having access to a comprehensive job board through your association is extremely important. They want to set a solid foundation for the start of their career journey. So, they are looking for networking opportunities including plugging into an online community and attending events such as your association’s annual meeting and career fairs. Additionally, early careerists want to know they are being set up for success, so providing certification, professional development, and credentialing opportunities through your LMS will help your association stand out as a resource.
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Mid-careerists are doing what you would expect them to: growing their careers. While they might be less engaged with job boards, they are a great audience for your association’s career center. Learning opportunities that you can provide through your LMS, such as continuing education, board exam prep and certification and credentialing opportunities, are top of mind.
These members also want career guidance, which your association can provide by connecting them with mentors, giving recommended learning paths, and providing professional networking opportunities. Additionally, mid-careerists want to stay on top of their industry. Being able to access the latest industry news, such as alerts about legislative issues affecting the profession, and resources that help them keep up with best practices and industry research are hugely important.
Those who have advanced in their careers focus on leadership growth and hiring qualified candidates from the aforementioned career stages. That being said, job boards come back into play for late careerists, as do career fairs. Now, though, these members are hosting career fair booths versus attending the fair to look for jobs. To that end, recruitment guides are great tools for members in this career stage (and help your association drive non-dues revenue!). Leadership courses through your LMS are also a great resource your association can provide.
Members nearing retirement are great candidates for mentoring and guest speaking opportunities. Professionals can benefit from mentoring at any stage in their careers. And, homing in on the expertise that retiring members have to offer can help your association to stand out at industry thought leadership opportunities. Retiring members also want to maintain the credentials they’ve earned, which they can do through your LMS. With all their experience, these members are prime candidates for board member positions within your association as well.
Career resources are a key component to having a successful career center, which if done right can establish your career center as a go-to resource when a member or non-member is seeking career advancement and new opportunities. Your members, who are the lifeblood of any association, will then see this as an invaluable resource to utilize throughout their career journey.
Now, let’s take a further look into how you can provide association member value.
Prioritize Member Loyalty
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You can offer many means of fostering member loyalty, including:
- Membership loyalty programs: Align benefits with member values. Use surveys or other methods to ask for feedback from members about what they want and consider how to deliver it.
- Convenience: Make it easy for members to find you, interact with you, and renew their memberships. Consider offering automatic payment services or seamless online renewals for better retention.
- A place to connect: Create opportunities for members to engage with exclusive online neighborhoods and active social media communities. Host virtual conferences or events where members can interact with peers and colleagues.
- A personal experience: Leverage your member data insights and relationships to develop a more individualized approach to interaction with them. Communicate appreciation and ensure they feel your association understands and supports them.
Offer Online Learning and Certification Courses
Deliver interactive and impactful webinars, webcasts, and on-demand courses as part of a comprehensive continuing education program. Members furloughed or looking to grow their professional portfolio put great value in the latest credentialing and certifications through online education. Work with your internal teams to design and deliver the training your members want to see using technology like Learning Management Systems, virtual career fairs, and events.
Become a Thought Leader
Members turn to their organizations for information and research that improves their daily lives. The ideal way to deliver on their need for those resources is through consistent and valuable content generation. These communications can come in many forms, including:
- Sharing user stories, case studies, and practical experiences.
- Publishing survey results or proprietary research.
- Posting industry-related expertise to build your reputation as an authority.
- Promoting standards and guidelines.
- Developing and sharing best practices.
Use all the channels at your disposal to publicize your content, including social media links, newsletters, and your association website.
Promote Volunteer Programs
Motivate members to join and stay at your organization by offering volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in making a positive impact. For those who want experience to boost their resumes, offer the chance to learn new skills and practical knowledge through experiences that will keep them engaged with your association.
Offer Career-Improving Member Benefits
Professional development and job opportunities are among the essential member rewards your association offers. Your members depend on your organization to give them opportunities to advance their knowledge and careers by:
- Offering comprehensive training resources: Deliver webinars, on-demand virtual courses, and certification preparation classes to help members broaden their expertise.
- Providing networking opportunities: Consider hosting virtual events, in-person gatherings, and an active mentorship program to help members connect with decision-makers and experienced industry practitioners. Many members also appreciate the chance to serve their communities, interact with others, and gain experience with meaningful volunteering.
- Developing a mentor program: Sponsor a program that pairs seasoned industry employees with those just starting their careers. Both parties benefit from fresh perspectives and the chance to build leadership skills.
- Supporting an exclusive job board: Maintain good relationships with industry employers so you can find out about upcoming openings. Post current vacancies to connect job seekers with career opportunities.
Host a Members-First Career Center
The advantages of an industry and field-specific job board are easy to understand but if you have it locked down from non-members, you are also losing a significant source of new leads. Limited non-member access is a great alternative, allowing potential members to see the great benefits your association job board offers. Using information from non-member job seekers helps you build marketing lists which you can then turn to when kicking off membership campaigns.