Event planning is one of many important parts of effective association management. A well-planned association event not only boosts your revenue and engages existing members, but it can recruit new ones as well.
Members make an association. And recruiting new members is just as important as retaining current members! Recruiting helps association growth and keeps numbers up when old members leave.
In this guide, we’ll discuss five essential ways your organization can incorporate events into your member recruitment strategy to enhance your results.
1. Determine your target audience
Before you begin planning an upcoming event to increase member recruitment, it’s important to understand your association’s target audience. There are different reasons for someone to attend an association event. Here are some common motivations:
- Education: For attendees who want to learn more about a specific subject, consider having a speaker or a workshop on a specific topic relevant to your association.
- Professional networking: For those who want to build connections for their professional social network, hold roundtable discussions, lectures, and workshops. Just make sure attendees have ample downtime between activities to socialize.
- Socializing: Many people attend events to meet new people. Almost any kind of event will work for this! Try holding trivia or other fun activities that get people involved and talking.
- Community involvement: Many attendees are interested in giving back to their community, so consider holding charity events that help them make a positive difference.
By understanding how to appeal to potential members’ values and interests, you can choose the right type of event to attract them.
2. Plan how you’ll engage potential members
Plan your association event with potential members in mind. You should always be thinking about the specific individuals you’re trying to draw in. It’s always a good idea to plan as much of your event in advance as possible. This way, everyone helping at the event knows exactly what they’re meant to be doing and how they can connect to potential members.
Consider hosting an event that both members and non-members are free to attend. Or consider inviting potential members to attend a members-only event as guests. No matter the event, you can prepare welcome packets containing important membership details to pass out to these non-members at the event.
To provide added convenience to potential members, consider making your event hybrid or virtual so that even those who may be unable to attend in person can participate.
At this point in time, most people are very familiar with attending virtual events, which makes it easy and convenient. This also broadens your audience and lets you reach more people. You can reach people who may live further away but are still excited to join.
Having this option is a great way to attract people who are interested in your association but haven’t been able to make it to in-person events previously. They’ll be even more excited for this one!
3. Enlist your current members to help at your event
Make the most of your existing members’ connections by enlisting them to help with member recruitment at your next association event.
Having current members there is a great way to introduce potential members to your association. It’s also a great way for potential members to form connections within the association through current members. A personal connection goes a long way.
Ask for volunteers from your members to become ambassadors at the event. They can encourage potential members to join your association by:
- Welcoming guests
- Sharing their experience as a member
- Answering membership-related questions
- Introducing them to other members at the event
Furthermore, encourage existing members to invite a non-member acquaintance, work colleague, or friend who might be interested in becoming a member.
Using existing networks is a great way to find new members. A person coming to an event through someone they know is more likely to join up if they have a personal connection to your organization already.
4. Emphasize member benefits
Make it easy for event attendees to embark on their membership journey to your association by highlighting specific member benefits at the event. Show them why they should join!
At the event, you can include benefits in your welcome packet. You can also consider passing out one-page sheets listing the benefits. Having the benefits highlighted in their own handout can be helpful to make them more clear.
You can also go into more detail if they’re separate, rather than trying to fit it all into the welcome packet, which should be concise. Provide a link to your website on anything you hand out, or another place where they can learn more.
Just a few member benefit ideas you can highlight include:
- Discounts and coupons
- Member directory
- Mentorship programs
- Exclusive online content
- Professional training and certifications
Member benefits will be different for every association. Again, think about your audience. Who are they? What do you think would benefit them? What do you think they’d be most interested in?
5. Follow up with event attendees
In addition to your usual thank-you emails to everyone who attended your event, follow up specifically with your non-member event attendees about joining your association.
Give them a clear path, both during and after the event, for how to join your organization. Make the process as easy and clear as possible. Nothing stops a potential member more than a lengthy and difficult-to-understand application process. Having a straightforward application process should always be an important part of your member recruitment strategy.
There are many things you can fit into a thank you email. Here are some suggestions:
- First of all, thank them for coming!
- Tell them about the next event they can attend.
- Link them to further information about your organization. This could be your website, which should have benefits laid out again, and a clear way to join your association.
- Invite them to subscribe to a regular newsletter so they can hear about what’s happening next. These little updates and reminders help keep your organization in their mind and make them more likely to join.
Show them that you care about their experience with your organization by sending out post-event surveys to gather their feedback and make improvements for future events.
Events can give potential members a clearer picture of what membership in your association looks like. Therefore, it’s critical to plan an enjoyable and memorable event experience for all attendees. In this article, we’ve given five ways to help you improve your member recruitment strategy. Following these five tips will help turn your next recruitment event into a success!