Membership Pro Tip: Virtual Happy Hour for Newbies

A virtual happy hour gave new members the chance to network with one another, but it also was an opportunity for staff to better understand what members are looking for.

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine emails a six-part video series to new members that includes an overview of benefits, website updates they should know about, and most recently, an invitation to attend a virtual happy hour.

After receiving a lot of feedback from members saying they wanted more networking opportunities outside of ACLM’s in-person annual conference, the group recently hosted its first happy hour and will continue to host them every quarter.  

“Between the videos in the welcoming email, as well as the happy hour, this gives them that opportunity to feel included, brought into the family, and engage with us further,” said Jennifer Nanni, ACLM’s senior director of membership.

How Does It Work?

Staff emails a video invitation to all the new members who joined in a quarter and the previous one. ACLM Associate Director of Member Engagement Janelle Dye appears in the 45-second video personally welcoming the new members and encouraging them to attend.

As for the happy hour itself, ACLM staff kicks off the first 10 minutes with introductions, an overview of benefits, instructions on how to access its online networking platform, and more. Then, participants are sent to breakout rooms based on their regions.

Using ACLM’s video hosting platform, attendees answer three icebreaker questions during the breakout sessions: What’s your title, what is your favorite ACLM pillar, and what state are you from? Results are then shared in real time.

Once the icebreaker activity wraps up, staff steps back and lets the conversation flow. At the end, everyone reconvenes, and staff asks people to enter their email in the chat if they’re interested in a chance to win a free key chain or t-shirt.

Why Is It Effective?

ACLM has member interest groups, but the happy hour is an opportunity for newbies to get to know the staff and other members in a more informal setting where they can build connections and learn more about the organization.

It turns out the happy hour also helps make ACLM’s offerings more visible. After the inaugural event, several members signed up for ACLM’s certification program because they learned about it there, and some members made connections with other members in their state, “which is exactly what we wanted,” Nanni said.

What’s the Benefit?

The event directly aligns with one ACLM’s core pillars: social connections. In addition, it is also an opportunity for staff and members to get to know one another.

“It’s important for us to really know our membership base and understand who our members are so we can continue to meet their needs as best we can as an association,” Nanni said. “The new happy hour gives us the chance to have that facetime with our members we might not otherwise have.”

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

(Jenny On The Moon/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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