Direct interaction with association members is a valuable commodity. Don’t let a few lucky staff keep it all to themselves.
My favorite part of any ASAE conference is hearing stories from members about their work. It’s energizing. My daily work is so much text; conversing with members brings it to life, makes it real.
Some association pros are lucky. They get to talk with members day in and day out, and they’re sitting on a gold mine of first-hand knowledge and feedback.
I suspect a lot of association professionals feel the same way I do. Even when we communicate with members through the normal course of work, so much of it is electronic, brief, and task oriented. Not many of us have regular opportunities to shoot the breeze with the members we serve or to simply listen to their stories. When those opportunities do come, they’re invaluable.
Some association pros are lucky, though. By the nature of their positions, they’re rich with member interactions. They’re on the front lines in the member call center, or they travel to visit chapters on a regular basis, or they administer volunteer committees. They get to talk with members day in and day out, and they’re sitting on a gold mine of first-hand knowledge and feedback.
In the November issue of Associations Now, we briefly highlighted one such position: the member concierge at the California Dental Association, Terry Fong. She’s the lead contact for CDA’s first-year member onboarding process. My favorite part of Terry’s role is this: “Based on her calls with members, Fong sends a weekly all-staff email that highlights one new member’s story.”
This is a great example of sharing the wealth. All that member interaction can’t be capitalized upon if it doesn’t leave Terry’s desk. A weekly email might take some extra effort, but it’s worth the commitment.
If your association staff has a select few who amass direct member interaction, you should identify them and encourage them—or perhaps, better yet, require them—to share that information with colleagues. Alternatively, you could spread the opportunities for member contact among more staff members. Either way, your association will be better for it when your staff has a more personal and tangible understanding of your members.
What methods have you used at your association to spread the wealth of member contact among staff? Please share examples in the comments.