Let’s Get Personal: How to Boost Face-to-Face Engagement

Here are four strategies that will help set the foundation for strong communication between members and staff.

There’s no substitution for face-to-face member engagement. We all know it’s challenging in practice; it’s so much easier to make a phone call or send out an email and hope for the best. Unfortunately, easier isn’t always better.

While it takes time and effort—especially when your members are spread through the country, or even the world (!)—your association will be better off for getting up close and personal with members.

Face-to-face engagement promotes improved communication between members and staff, setting the foundation for a stronger association overall. By creating opportunities to engage with members on a more personal level, everyone feels a deeper commitment to their organization. Here are a few ideas to get started:

1. Visit Chapters in Person

When’s the last time your membership engagement team met with association chapters in person? If it’s been a while since staff communicated with chapters offline, consider making a trip to actually meet the people behind the emails and phone calls. If you have the resources to scale up your in-person engagement, tour multiple chapters to learn about the issues affecting members by region.

Meetups don’t have to be formal affairs with extensive planning. Encourage your membership team to reach out to local chapters when traveling for work, no matter if the trip’s purpose isn’t strictly related to member engagement. Even a quick chat over coffee can be valuable, planting the seed for greater collaboration down the line.

2. Make the Most of Association Events

Events such as your association’s annual meeting are perfect for facilitating face-to-face engagement. Innovative organizations such as Protech Associates, Results Direct and ClickDimensions have begun utilizing this tactic, giving customers a chance to connect directly with product developers. This can easily be applied to associations as well, facilitating deeper connections between members and staff.

Need more ideas to try at your association?

  • Networking receptions allow members to mingle not only with one another, but also with key association staff. Invite members to chat in a laid-back environment that’s conducive to naturally flowing conversation. For informal discussion throughout your event, set up meeting lounges for face-to-face interaction. Schedule blocks of time for people to chat with your membership engagement team or rotate staff to speak with attendees as they come and go.
  • Roundtable discussions are another great way to help members feel more engaged while taking part in association-sponsored events. Invite your most influential members to talk about a hot-button industry topic, giving them a sense of purpose in the association and an opportunity to establish themselves as thought leaders.
  • Don’t forget about your virtual viewers. Give members who can’t attend in person the option to watch an interactive webcast and share their thoughts in real time.

3. Create Online Communities for Member Connections and Involvement

When communicating with members in person isn’t feasible, you can still keep tabs on member news and views with online communities. These platforms help members connect with one another and learn about opportunities to increase their engagement in the association. Encourage members to post their own content relevant to the association’s mission and share the different ways that they stay engaged on social media.

4. Track Member Patterns for Personalized Outreach

You won’t know how to engage with members until you understand how they interact with the association. Use your membership records to track engagement patterns, which will influence your outreach strategy. Particularly engaged members — those who never miss a webinar and are always up to volunteer — will be more likely to respond to personal requests from the association, such as attending a board meeting to offer insights.

Members who aren’t quite as involved in association activities have even more to gain through personalized outreach. Send a friendly check-in to ask how you can help them become more engaged with the organization. Make it easier for them to get involved by highlighting opportunities for face-to-face engagement with association staff and leaders.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of sending email blasts and perfunctory phone calls. But the next time you’re tempted to make the easy choice, think about how you can make a more personal connection with your members. It’s well worth your time.

– From the experts at Protech Associates

Protech Associates proudly provides member-based organizations with association management software built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform. To learn more, visit, or stop by Booth #429 at the ASAE Technology Conference & Expo.