Combing through over 343 interview transcripts, I am discovering the reasons member join. We tend to think they join for the benefits, but most potential members have no idea what the member benefits are. Instead, they join because someone told them to join. A professor, a manager, a peer, or someone they respect recommended the association to them. There is also another reason members join.
Sometimes members join because it is what people like them do. “I am a physician, and because I’m a physician, I joined the physician’s association.” For some members joining their association is part of their professional identity. Being a member might bring them additional credibility or stature. Or joining is so expected the individual might be shunned if they do not join.
When members join because it is what people like them do, member acquisition is often not a problem, but engagement might be. How do you engage when membership is just a plaque on the wall or a notation in their LinkedIn profile? There are many answers to this question but, one place I would start first is making sure the association is offering solutions by each of the key career stages: new members, 3-7 year members, and long-time members. Even though these members joined because it is what people like them do, they still have professional problems. Your association might as well solve them.