We talk about your association’s “why” a lot here at MemberClicks. By understanding your association’s intentions, it allows for you to be transparent and authentic about your goals. But what about your member’s why? It’s instrumental to see where your members are coming from and recognize what they need out of your association. We’ve decided to highlight several key needs that you might see time and time again with your members. Member’s Why #1: “I’m looking to broaden my professional network.” This statement is probably one of the most popular answers given on why individuals join professional associations. They want to mix and mingle with other like-minded people in their field. We all know that naturally coming into contact with our fellow industry professionals can be difficult, so organizations can definitely help out. What we recommend: Your response should be to keep up a healthy amount of networking events. Depending on your area, you should considering having it at several locations around town to provide some variety to your members. Personally, there is nothing worse than doing the same event over and over again without any change. By keeping your networking events appealing, it will create a larger turnout and help naturally nurture your social networks. Member’s Why #2: “I want to grow my industry knowledge.” Depending on your industry, your members may need to know very niche information that you won’t find in common educational settings. Typically this means that finding these educational classes may be a pain and can be time consuming. Fulfilling this key need is where your association can come in and show worth! What we recommend: Focus on having educational sessions that hit multiple interests across the board. By doing so, you should find that your engagement with members should continue to increase (and therefore retain). Look at a variety of educational programs that support both soft and hard skills as well as provide projected directions of change in your industry. Member’s Why #3: “I want to build my resume.” We have all heard this reason. Sometimes, all it takes is another line on a resume to make someone want to commit to joining an association. Either way, investing in this interest isn’t a bad way to get someone’s foot in the door to have deeper involvement down the road. What we recommend: Provide “micro-volunteer” opportunities so that these members can feel like they are making their mark without putting a dent into their calendar. This may look like taking agenda notes for your association’s monthly meeting, volunteering once a month to come into the office and provide an extra set of hands, or even coming into a networking event early to help set up. Try looking at the areas of your association where you need the most support and find reasonable responsibilities that take little know-how so that your members can jump right in! Member’s Why #4: “I want some exclusive professional benefits.” Some people want to know that they are getting an “in” with any group that they join. They may feel like your association is a leader in your industry and that, if anyone, you will be able to provide the best benefits for their needs. To be fair, a goal of your association should be to ensure that you’re able to provide resources beyond what the average professional can obtain themselves. What we recommend: You may want to try to establish relationships with other companies that fit into your industry. These partnerships allow for you to trade benefits so that you can offer your members a better deal on the things they want. This could look like promo codes to webinars or discounts on industry supplies. We recommend taking a moment to review what interests your members and see if you can find something each company can do for the other. Member’s Why #5: “I want to give back to my community.” Ideally, this is a response that most of your professionals will have at some point in their career when it comes to joining an association. Whether you have years of knowledge or you’re fresh off the block, we can all provide some skill that can benefit those around us. As an association, your members will be looking to you to find opportunities for them to be more involved in your industry. What we recommend: You should have at least one quarterly outreach program that focuses on your industry. For example, if your association focuses on art education, try having a workshop event for all ages to explore art throughout the 20th century. These opportunities will remind your members why they do what they do on a daily basis. To go one step further, reach out to your members and see what specialized skill sets they can provide. You may find that you have a large enough group of members to have a special task force to focus on one specific need in your industry. Whatever the reason may be for your members to join, we encourage you to recognize their varying motivators and to make sure to have systems set up across the board to cover these needs. Otherwise, you may find your membership retention on the downslope! Are you looking to improve your member engagement? Try reading our Membership Engagement Guide for Small-Staff Associations to pick up some tips to encourage your members to stick around for the long-haul.