During this unprecedented time, associations must leverage creativity, communication and compassion to survive and stay ahead.
As we enter the reopening phase of the global pandemic, organizations face a new normal for how they will operate and how they can grow. During this time, creativity, communication and compassion will be critical to not only survive but also to thrive in this unexpected landscape.
Not surprisingly, technology will play a huge role in how organizations can manage change, adapt and emerge stronger than ever before the lockdown. Here are ways that resilient associations can utilize technology to engage their members, keep their staffers safe and achieve their goals.
Communicate clearly and constantly
Now is not the time to stay quiet. Associations should use every communication tool at their disposal—from email lists to social media channels to free webinars—to give members regular updates on how they are operating. Explain what is going on at the association, offer industry insights and the latest thinking on best practices for businesses—be a resource and let members know that your organization is there for them. Don’t worry about “spamming”—over-communication during uncertain times is vital to combating fear and anxiety.
The same is true for association employees. As most organizations have moved to remote setups, constant communication has been proven to boost productivity and morale. Video and apps are great methods for reaching people at scale, but research conducted by Personify shows that the old-fashioned phone call may be an underutilized but effective way to connect with employees and association members. In fact, it was cited as the best or second-best method of communication by 46% of those surveyed. Phone calls offer a personal touch and refreshing break from the video fatigue so many of us are experiencing.
Staying connected with virtual and hybrid events
The possibility of holding in-person activities and conferences for the remainder of 2020 is very much up in the air, but technology offers a solution that organizations big and small are now utilizing to keep their tentpole events on the books: virtual and hybrid events. Virtual events can range from thousands of attendees interacting with keynote speakers and panelists, to smaller more intimate events where they can connect directly with one another. Hybrid events offer attendees, exhibitors, speakers, organizers and event staff the ability to evaluate their participation in new ways.
Entrepreneurs Dorie Clark and Alisa Cohn shared the following best practices with Harvard Business Review for leading a successful virtual networking event: “Ask each person to spend two minutes introducing themselves with a mix of professional and personal information, such as a favorite hobby or passion.” Once attendees are comfortable, ask specific questions to keep the event on track and avoid it drifting into chatter about what everyone is streaming. Then, at the conclusion of the event (which they suggest having run no longer than 90 minutes) facilitate post-event connections: “After the gathering, send a quick follow-up email with everyone CC’d, thanking them for coming and encouraging them to connect with each other one-on-one, if they’d like.”
Whether it is virtual, in-person or a hybrid event, it is crucial to keep connections going long after the meeting ends. Online tools like Personify Community help extend connections and conversations past the three days of an annual conference, keeping folks engaged the other 362 days of the year. Associations can leverage online communities to supplement their virtual conference with virtual meet-ups, embedded videos and presentations, digital resources, and more.
Invest in forward-thinking
As the country opens back up, resilient organizations will want to move ahead, not yearn to go back to normal. “You can’t necessarily plop and drop what you’d done in person into the virtual world,” Richard Vallaster, director of client relations at Personify, told The New York Times.
Surviving and thriving are about accepting the new landscape and adapting to it. As Jason Wingard, Dean of Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, wrote for Quartz, “Although at this moment it is difficult to imagine a day when the coronavirus no longer controls most aspects of our lives, I am certain that day will come. And when it does, I believe the smartest business leaders won’t rush back to the constraints of unnecessary formalities, cubicles, or commutes. Instead, they will accept that the future of work has already arrived—and, in doing so, will prepare themselves and their teams for whatever comes next.”
Associations must stay connected with their members to reinforce the idea that we are all in this together. With time, a thoughtful approach and embracing all of the tools at our disposal, associations can come out even stronger when the crisis ends.
Let us know the innovative ways you are keeping connected in the comments below.
Personify—We know this challenging time has created new and unique challenges in engaging with members, managing financials and driving your organization forward. Personify is committed to helping you adapt and emerge from COVID-19 or any crisis, more connected and resilient than ever. Our trusted solutions help you manage during and through these times with digital connections, virtual programming, a single source of truth for your data, and peace of mind for your members.