Top 10 Tips for Effective Member Onboarding from Association Experts

February 22, 2024
By: Julianne Fitzpatrick

Onboarding new members can feel purely administrative but it’s one of the best opportunities to set the stage for the long-term success of your association.

Congratulations! You’ve recruited a new member to your association and they’re ready to work! Now what? Do you send them a password and wish them well? To ensure new members are prepared to effectively contribute their valuable time and energy, here are 10 strategies to not only get but also keep members engaged.

1. Welcome to the Team!

Offer a sincere greeting on behalf of the board, leadership, and staff. A high-quality initial interaction welcoming new members and thanking them for their interest and participation sets the stage for a productive and successful working relationship.

2. Provide Resources

Create a wiki with available resources from meeting schedules and dial-ins, event calendars, procedures, job descriptions, volunteer opportunities, sponsorship opportunities, and contacts. A well-organized resource library empowers members to become familiar with the organization and reduces staff time replying to repetitive questions.

3. Create Social Opportunities

No one wants to feel like the new kid in school. Schedule an informal social event, like a 30-minute newcomer welcome breakfast  at your in-person meetings to create a low-pressure environment for new members to meet each other and to interact with leaders and staff. Another option is to have a mentor (board member, leadership, or a long-time member) partner up with the new member to make introductions, answer questions, etc.

4. Introductions

New members may be announced on the website and in a social media blast. Take it one step further by highlighting new participants in your opening statement at a meeting or in your online communications to foster a sense of community and growth as an organization.

5. New Member Check In

Is your new member attending calls? Are they volunteering? Are they downloading the latest materials? After initial onboarding, check back with new members to ensure they have the tools and information they need to engage so the ROI in your organization is evident.

6. Provide Tools

Providing easy-to-use online tools, such as an AMS, for meeting registration, document management, project management and member collaboration is essential to facilitate their work for your association. A good tool will also help with reporting to measure member engagement.

7. Approach With Mindfulness

Be mindful of time zones, communication methods and language to encourage a dynamic and diverse organization and increase participation. Do you need to provide closed captioning?  Accessible friendly websites? What will make it easy for your members to participate.

8. Quality of Experience

To create the best experience for your members (new and existing) consider how different members prefer to engage. Do introverts need rest spaces or longer breaks at in-person meetings? Do members need translation services? Do they need more training on available tools? Know what works for your membership and incorporate elements that enable them to make the most of their time together.

9. Importance of Communication

Do your members only hear from you when their invoice is due? Highlighting new member profiles in newsletters, blogs, and email communications can foster connection between members and demonstrate growth. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

10. Request Feedback

Often new members are the best source of inspiration and ideas to make the onboarding process even better. A quick survey to ask for their honest feedback will make those members feel heard and improve the onboarding experience for the next new member. Why did they join?  What is the compelling reason for their engagement? What do they wish we provided that we don’t currently?

A newcomer’s fresh perspective enables associations to assess, and where necessary, up-level the onboarding experience to ensure that new members feel that they are a welcome addition to the group and that their presence is valued.

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