Membership managers like you aren’t just savvy, they’re smart. That’s because they know retaining association memberships is tied directly to how you welcome new members. Do you remember your first event with your current association? What about the first touchpoint with a member? When was the first time you truly felt like a member? It’s important to create a warm, welcoming environment for new association members. Doing so allows membership managers like yourself to craft a foundation upon which to build strong, long-lasting member relationships. And stronger member relationships lead to higher membership retention rates! Check out these 9 ways to help establish relationships with your new association members and make them truly feel welcomed as a part of your organization. 1. Perfect Your New Member Welcome Letter The first step to welcoming your new members is a new member welcome letter, where personalization is key. Personalization can be as small as including the new member’s name in the salutation. However, you can absolutely take the personalization to a deeper level. Talk about the specific contributions and characteristics you think the new member will specifically be able to bring to your association. Next, you’ll want to offer your thanks. Without your members, your association would be nowhere. Your members should know how much value they bring to you, and how important their presence is. Finally, give your new member next steps. While you don’t want to overwhelm them, you do want to tell them how to get involved. Include upcoming events they can attend, or volunteering opportunities. If you’ve done your research, you’ll understand why this member joined your organization in the first place, and you’ll be able to highlight specific activities that appeal to their specific interests. If you’re a visual learner, check out this article for a sample template and example to guide your letter-writing process. 2. Address New Members' Reasons for Joining No two members are alike, so be sure to treat them as such. Address new members’ reasons for joining in your welcome letter, and in other key, initial communications with them. For example, perhaps some members were intrigued by your online learning program, while others decided to join to gain access to employment and networking opportunities. Once you know the “why” behind your new members joining, you can cater to their interests and needs. 3. Add New Members to Your Online Community Direct new members to your online community—you can even make it easy by giving them instructions or a video walkthrough of how to use the platform. Remember to offer answers for any questions the new member may have after they’ve reviewed the instructions or videos provided. You’ll also want to make them feel included in your social media presence. Add new members to any Facebook groups or group chats your organization uses to stay in touch with members. If you don’t have any private social media channels for members, you can also encourage the new member to follow your public social channels. 4. Create a Comprehensive Welcome Packet Now it’s time to take everything you’ve developed and combine the information into one comprehensive welcome packet. Your welcome packet should include: Your optimized welcome letter Information on how to join your online community Free merchandise, like pens, t-shirts, or notepads Important information about dues payments Your calendar of upcoming events Instructions for how members can update their personal information in your membership directory Consider how this information and packet is presented to your new members. Use fun, branded packaging that’s worthy of sharing on social media. Think “instagrammable” so your new members want to show off their welcome packet! Sure, there will be some housekeeping items in the packet, but this will make the materials seem more fun and welcoming. 5. Highlight New Members on Your Digital Platforms Consider spotlighting new members on your social media pages, email newsletters, and website or blog posts. Ask each member to fill out a quick Q&A so existing members can get to know them. You could ask them about their reason for joining your membership organization and what they’re most looking forward to. Also, make sure to ask for some personal details so that other members can connect with them on more than just a business level. Hobbies, interests and what they do for their day job (if it’s not obvious depending on your organization!) can help existing members connect more easily. While this is a great option for members who appreciate online attention, make sure to ask for your new members’ permission before posting anywhere publicly. Make sure your new members know how you’ll be using the Q&A information, and then it’s off to the races. They’ll feel great seeing that your organization or association is welcoming them to the family. 6. Connect New Members With A Mentor While you’re in charge of making the welcome and onboarding experiences the best they can be, you’re only one person. Your current champions and long-time members can also serve as mentors for your new members. This can offer a special 1:1 bonding experience where your new members might feel more comfortable asking questions. This can be an ongoing mentor relationship or a micro-mentoring opportunity. Either way, connecting new members with mentors helps them feel more at ease and gives them at least one friendly, recognizable face at member events such as meetings or conferences. 7. Invite New Members on a Tour of Your Physical Location Many new members may have signed up for your association or organization based via online interactions or your website. Consider giving them the full tour treatment by taking an hour or so to walk new members around your organization’s facility or meeting space. Introduce them to the area and provide them with more background information on your organization. This can help them feel more comfortable in the space and introduce them to any staff members. Having a better understanding of the physical location will help them feel more at ease during the next in-person networking or learning event. 8. Host a Welcome Event You throw events for your members all the time, so you’re no stranger to hosting! Use this opportunity to invite new and existing members to a welcome event, such as a networking opportunity or a night out at a restaurant. In-person interactions help solidify those budding relationships. It’ll offer an opportunity for your new members to connect with existing members and ask any questions they may have about the association or organization. 9. Use New Member Feedback to Enhance Your Onboarding Approach No feedback is bad feedback. It's all an opportunity to improve. Send new members a survey within their first couple months of membership to ask their opinions on their welcome and onboarding experience. Then, it’s important to use their feedback, along with this MemberClicks guide to new member onboarding, to enhance your program for future new member cohorts. Wrapping Up Now you have the tools to ensure you extend a warm welcome to your new members. Remember that understanding their specific needs and wants from their membership will help you create the perfect new member welcome package, including letters, materials and events. Ultimately, it should up your retention rate. Want to dig in and start crafting your welcome experience? With MemberClicks, you can store all your new member information and build better member relationships. Once you've gotten started, take it a step further and download this onboarding guide for information on how to best onboard your new association members. You’ll find helpful tips like when to communicate with new members (and what types of messages to send) and how to organize successful new members-only events (without having to spend a ton of extra money)!