New members typically don’t join for the reasons we think they join. They tend not to join for the professional development and networking. Some of your newest members do not even realize that the association provides professional development and networking.
Why do new members join? They join because someone told them to. Word of mouth is the top reason most new members join. Professors, vendors, consultants, managers, CEOs, and colleagues are evangelizing your association. If you ask new members, most can trace their knowledge of the association back to who first recommended you to them.
“Except,” you might be thinking, “except for associations that offer valuable certifications.” Our members want the certification and the designation. Projects managers get their PMI. Event professionals want their CMP designation. These certifications are synonymous with the profession and synonymous with our association. Everyone knows, about these certifications we think. Except new members can still trace back who told them about the certification. It may have been 3 or 5 or 10 years ago when the recommender planted the seed, and now, today they are going after that certification and they can still remember that person.
Almost every type of association lives or dies by referrals. Engaged members become association referrers. Solve your member engagement problem, and you solve your member acquisition problem as well.