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10 Strategies for Welcoming New Members to Your Association

Think bigger than the typical “welcome letter” you can send out to your new members – implement one or more of these strategies to ensure that your association makes an outstanding first impression.

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Congratulations! Your months of lead generation and relationship-building has paid off, and your association has some fresh new recruits. Now it’s time to get your new association members plugged in and excited about your organization.

One of the biggest factors in retaining members is engagement. Members who aren’t getting opportunities for involvement or making personal connections aren’t going to be fulfilled – and their membership may be short-lived because of it. Thus it’s important to begin your engagement strategy right off the bat.

If you start off on the right foot, you ensure that your new members get the most out of their membership, which creates a bigger chance of retainment and even of gaining new members through word-of-mouth. To greet your new members, think bigger than the typical “welcome” letter – implement one or more of these strategies to ensure that your association makes an outstanding first impression.  

1. Send out an information packet

It’s not uncommon for new members to feel overwhelmed. What do they do now? How do they get involved? How do they pay their dues? Who do they even ask these questions?

You can head off all of these queries with an information packet.

As soon as your recruits sign on, send out a booklet that answers all your most frequently asked questions, and includes general information about your association. This is a great way to get people excited, through photos of active members and examples of past events. So not only are you taking care of all your general need-to-know items, you’re also creating a little bit of hype for yourself, which will go a long way in telling your new members that they made the right decision.

2. Get personal

One of your members’ big motivations to sign on was to gain connections, so keep the connections coming with a personal phone touch-base. Once your member has had a week or two to acclimate, have a team member follow up with a phone call to make sure that all their questions have been answered. This is not just for their information – it’s also to let them know that they’re seen, valued, and that their opinions matter. This may even be a good lead-in to our next strategy...

3. Ask for input

Whether on your personal phone follow-up or via email, be sure you ask your new members for their input. Did they have any trouble signing up? Did your info packet leave anything to be desired? What do they hope to gain from your association, both immediately and long-term?

Getting feedback always helps you create a better experiences for members, but specifically asking for new member feedback has the added benefit of making your initiates feel involved and appreciated right at the get-go. Show your newbies just how much you value their fresh perspective by performing this new member survey and allowing them to express themselves.

4. Give a gift

Everyone loves free stuff, and celebrating new membership is a great time to give away some branded swag. Whether it’s a t-shirt, tote, mug, or some other token, a welcome gift is a fantastic way to cement your relationship with new members and let them know that even better benefits are yet to come.

5. Use the buddy system

It’s hard to really dive into a new organization if you don’t know any other members. But you can eliminate this issue for your new members as soon as they join by implementing a “buddy system.”

For each new recruit, designate a current member to meet, greet, and address questions. Whether this is done in person or digitally will generally be determined by the size and spread of your organization. It may not be practical for some associations to arrange personal meet-ups between current and new members, but an email correspondence may be a good substitute.

However you choose to put this system together, make it an integral part of your new member strategy and you’ll build engagement and morale while fostering member connections.

6. Hold a reception

If your association isn’t too spread out geographically, it may be fun to hold regular receptions to welcome new members that have joined within the past few months. People bond well over food and conversation. A reception allows you to amp up the personal element that members crave, while giving initiates the chance to meet all of their fellow members at once. This can be an exciting, regular event for all your members and build up the community within your association. After all, your members have joined to network and build relationships – give them this opportunity as often as possible!

7. Newsletter recognition

Give new members their 15-minutes of fame – feature them in your monthly newsletter! A short write-up of each member is easy, cheap, and quickly provides recognition. Include a photo of each recruit, a 20-30 word bio, and contact information so that current members can find them on social media.

This is another strategy that is perfect for introducing new members, but it also serves to build the community as it enables other members to connect and build their own networks.

8. Share a social media post

Along similar lines, you can provide the same type of recognition via social media post. This way you can feature one new member profile each day rather than lumping them all together in one newsletter.

Again, include photos so that other members can link a face to each name, and share these new member features across a variety of platforms for increased exposure. The best part about this strategy is that at the same time you’re giving your new recruits a shout-out, you help them build up their social media networks, which in some cases may even assist with career advancement. It shows that you’re invested in each member – both personally and professionally.

9. Provide volunteer opportunities

People who are interested in joining your association are generally looking to get involved and be active, contributing members in some way. Shortly after sign up, reach out to your new members to let them know about any upcoming volunteer opportunities. This is especially effective if done via phone so that your association team can ask how they’d like to be involved or where they think their talents would be utilized effectively.

Volunteering is a great way for members to be involved with their community at large, with each other and with the organization – so be sure you provide plenty of opportunities for recruits to jump in and be a part of the team.

10. Streamline member connection

Unfortunately, it’s all-too-easy to talk about communication without actually fostering it. Set up a forum or other social media platform that is exclusively for members, and then be sure to give new members special access. Provide detailed instructions on how they can join and use the platform – and then invite them to jump in! If they’re having difficulty getting started, have another association member give them the basics and bring them into conversations.

Some members may be able to better express themselves in an online media format, so having a platform for this kind of communication is critical in getting new members involved. Such forums also create a low-pressure way for members to meet each other and stay connected throughout their membership.

Keep it going year-round

By way of a bonus tip, always remember: it’s a wonderful thing to make new members feel welcome when they join. In fact, it’s necessary to helping them feel comfortable within the community. But if your efforts don’t last the duration of their membership, then it doesn’t matter how strong of a start you have.

Think of a marriage: two partners can have a beautiful, perfect wedding day, but if all efforts of politeness, communication, and general decency cease after the honeymoon, then the marriage most likely won’t last too long.

Though certainly not the same level of commitment, the situation is similar when you consider your association and its members. If all personal communications and touch-bases just drop off after a certain point, your members will notice, and disenchantment and discontent will arise in place of the excitement they initially felt. And that’s a recipe for losing a member.

Keep follow-ups, recognition of achievements, and fun events going throughout each member’s lifecycle. And in so doing, you may just extend that lifecycle – all the while providing the excellent benefits that your association is known for.