Giuseppe Marletta joined the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) in February this year. As a member of Boardroom Advisory Board, we have asked him to contribute a column on his experience as he goes about his new role. This is Giuseppe’s first contribution and it’s all about association membership.
As the new Managing Director for Europe for the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and the former General Manager at the International Association of Young Lawyers, much of my day-to-day involves planning and executing the best experience for association members. As associations look to maintain strong membership year over year, member engagement is often the difference between whether someone will renew his or her membership or become a lapsed member. An engaged member is a retained member.
In my 15 years as an association leader, here are some of the ways I have learned to engage your membership:
Take members’ pulse on critical issues
The first step towards engaging members is knowing what matters to them. Membership surveys are a valuable tool to gauge what issues are top of mind and how members like to interact with the association and each other. In addition to regular full-membership surveys, segmented “flash polls” are a less formal way to generate almost instant feedback. Recently, ACC created a two-question survey for our Canadian members regarding the program theme they’d most like to see at our annual Canadian conference. Gathering this intelligence was fast and free, and helped us make an important decision.
Offer a variety of programs
With membership survey data on hand, it will be clear that one size does not fit all. For larger surveys, cross-section your data by demographic criteria (location, age, company size). Doing so is especially crucial for an international association. At ACC, we know that the top issue affecting company decisions in 2019 for in-house lawyers in Europe, Asia, and the United States is new regulation. We also know that among in-house lawyers in Australia and Canada, brand/reputation is most important, and for members in Latin America, the leading issue is mergers and acquisitions. The information helps us tailor our regional programming and even determine which legal resources should display first for a member accessing our website from a particular region. We can better customize our content to what members need – saving them valuable time.
Membership data also tells you how members like to interact with your association. Our younger members are less likely to attend in-person events. Our focus then becomes offering new and better virtual programming to this constituency. Review your data to make sure there is some type of programming that appeals to everyone – networking, video content, roundtables, webcasts, etc.
Meet members on social
Ensure that the community of your association extends online. Keep the association’s social media profiles active, visually appealing, and newsworthy. Members should visit your pages and profiles often and always see a variety of relevant content. Know whether your members visit social media for news, networking, photos, or a combination, and curate your feeds accordingly.
Offer many opportunities for feedback
Not every member will provide feedback in every scenario, but create an opportunity for feedback at every event. This can be as simple as having an iPad with a five-star rating system for conference check-ins (tap the number of stars representing the ease of check-in). Or, offer short surveys after virtual learning opportunities so you know which topics and presenters are best. Most importantly, make it clear to members that you act upon feedback they share.
Recognize and honor members
With constant efforts to expand conferences, create new learning opportunities, and ensure the most up-to-date content, it can be easy to forget that one of the main reasons professionals join an association is connection. Members want to get to know their peers. For that reason, always spotlight the human side of your membership. Honor your outstanding members, spotlight interesting members, and simply find ways to demonstrate the stories of your association membership. The spotlighted members will appreciate the recognition and others will like learning more about their peers. Fueling these connections drives members to engage more with each other – and ultimately with the entire association.