I have consulted with a handful of professionals who did just that, and the process was super exciting! Culture experts say that culture will happen no matter what, but the best cultures happen with some planning and encouragement. Member engagement is just like that. Some version of member engagement will happen no matter what, but real, authentic, meaningful member engagement happens with some thought and encouragement.
If I were going to create a member organization from scratch, here is how I would bake engagement into the structure of the organization from the start.
- Set a goal and imagine the outcome – the kind of community I would want to create and be a part of is: generous, special, a place where members feel like they find their like-minded sisters and brothers. Events, meetings, and conversations are happy, upbeat, and forward-thinking. Members feel a sense of belonging and are supported. The community is a friendly space full of possibilities, ideas, and experiments.
- Curate amazing first impressions – great first impressions prime members for long-term engagement, and they can model desired behaviors. Through a series of great first impressions, members see the staff and leadership are generous, open, and friendly. Members soon start to behave with generosity, openness, and friendliness. Soon the member culture is generous, open, and friendly.
- Institute an innovation practice – quickly, new organizations figure out what works, and some stop innovating. The moment they stop innovating, member engagement starts to decline. This community would create a culture of innovation and a process for innovation. A large portion of resources would be allocated toward this practice every year.
- Focus on great customer service – how would a big, goofy dog provide customer service? He would love members. He would love every interaction with members. He would want to spend as much time as he could with members. Our community would value extreme, personal customer service for its nearly magical way of building engagement.
- Amplify what matters most to members – we would work on quickly nailing down the administration of the organization, and turn most of our focus to delivering solutions, value, and remarkable experiences.
Imagine what you would do if you could build the uber-engaging member community of your dreams.
- Mary Byers asked me this question in her Successful Associations Today podcast. Listen to part 1&2 here.
- We need to get better at decoupling our emotions from outcomes
- Going beyond members’ expectations