I met a really unusual member today. By that I mean her action was very unusual.
After having a bad first conference experience most members don’t attend again. After having a bad chapter event experience most members don’t go again. After reading a few emails and finding no value most members start ignoring the association’s emails. Most members, when they don’t get value, when things get difficult, when they have a bad experience, opt out.
Not this member.
This member, a newcomer to the profession, went to her first conference with very clear expectations that she was going to learn the basics of the job. What to do first. What not to do. The pitfalls. The best practices.
Only that’s not what she got. The conference was a jumble and many of the sessions didn’t apply to her. She said she was surprised by that and a little confused. So she went back to the job and learned what to do through the school of hard knocks.
A year later she learned of a call for volunteers to be on the conference committee. Feeling like she had something to contribute: her bad conference experience as well as a robust list of what she knows now that she wished she knew then, she signed up.
As a committee member she advocated for more new to the profession programming. Now the conference has a robust new to the profession track and other members are mentioning the improvement in programing.
She is truly special.
She is one out of hundreds of members that didn’t opt out while all the others did. Instead after a bad experience she whole heartedly opted in.
How do we make her behavior less uncommon while still acknowledging this is not for everyone? Members will only want to get involved if they think it is important. Members will only want to get involved if they think they can be part of the solution.
Maybe we just have to be more transparent about what we are struggling with: stagnant growth, lukewarm attendance, growing detachment. And at the same time invite more member collaboration. Maybe then more special members like this member will step up rather than silently slip away.