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Three Ways to Better Engage With Members

By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Membership

In today’s world of over-scheduling and information overload, it is easy to become bogged down in the minutiae of what we know. We hear the same voices saying the same things so often that we quit listening, and we fall victim to the habit of talking to people rather than talking with people.

The same is true when it comes to your club membership. “It’s the way we’ve always done things,” is an old adage that we’ve all heard (and maybe even said) before. This frame of mind can prevent your member engagement strategy from ever being truly effective, but with a few changes, you can bring a fresh perspective to how you are communicating and working with your members.

Ask the right questions in the right way. We’ve all used form surveys to gather feedback from members over the years, but have you ever taken the time to really listen? Think outside the box by holding one-on-one conversations, small groups discussions or even a well-moderated town hall meeting at a regional convention the next time you need member feedback. Make sure that you keep the questions focused on what is relevant but allow for follow-up when necessary.

Understand the value of new voices. New members can breathe life into a club, and listening to them can help you get a new point of view. Whether you do it in person after a club meeting or during a check-in phone call, make sure to give them a few months first so that they have an idea of how your club works and what they would like to see improve.

Don’t be reactive. Being open and honest is intimidating for many members, so it is important to remain as calm and unbiased as possible when tough issues arise. You want to foster an environment where people feel free and comfortable to share their thoughts and ideas. Oftentimes, people just want the opportunity to be heard (even if it is just venting), so club leaders should actively listen rather than become defensive. And when a response is ultimately needed, do your best to be honest and transparent whenever possible.