Welcome-new-members-sign,-membership-plugins-for-WordPress,-photoby-Aaron-Burden

7 cost-effective ways to welcome new members

For business networking groups, merchant associations and chambers

Designing a warm welcome for new members is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the value of their membership, plus get them engaged right away. Think of this as a chance for you to highlight the features and benefits of membership that got them excited about joining in the first place. Plus, finding fun, creative ways to welcome new members will inspire them to take an active role in your organization.

Show them around. Remember how it feels to be new? When everything is unfamiliar?  Your members joined because they want to get involved, but taking that first step can be intimidating. Help them out by introducing them around, whether it’s virtually or in person, it’s never too soon to start building connections.  

How do you welcome new members?

Welcoming new members or ‘member onboarding’, refers to the various ways in which your association or chamber greets new members and introduces them to resources that will help them get the most value from their membership. Think of it as ‘employee orientation’ but for a membership association. 

Think back to the last time you joined a new group. Effective member onboarding involves a process, a series of steps in which you walk new members along, introduce them around and give them directions so that they can get comfortable. Engaging members early encourages participation, plus it develops members who stick around longer and bring in their friends.

7 ways to welcome new members and get them engaged right away

Send a “welcome email”

Start simple. No need to overwhelm. What information about your association or chamber do members need to know right away? For example, what resources should they become familiar with? Are there tools on your website that they should know about? And most of all, be friendly! Tips & tricks for writing fun ‘welcome new member’ emails (external link).

Member Account Page

Be sure to include a link to login to their member account page.  Remind them how to login with the username and password that they created during registration and what to do if they have forgotten their password. Show them how to download a copy of their invoice if needed.

Member Updated Business Directory Listings

Creating a member listing in your Business Directory is a benefit for both you and your members. Offering a robust Directory of local businesses can bring additional visitors to your site. Plus all of your marketing efforts now benefit your members as well as your association by increasing the visibility of their listing.

Encourage your members to update their Business Directory listing with an engaging description of their business, their logo and a link to their website and social media pages. 

Create a “welcome” email series

Have a ton of member benefits to offer? Instead of sending them all at once in a giant email, separate them into bite size pieces. Create a drip campaign that will automatically deliver a series of useful emails to each new member over several weeks. Be sure to include your contact info in case there are questions!

Share Upcoming Events

Whether they are in-person or virtual, networking events are a big reason that members join organizations. Business networking is a great way to tap into advice and expertise from like-minded business owners, plus develop high quality leads and connections…your members will want to take advantage of this benefit right away. Make it easy for your members to attend by: 

  • Letting them know how to find the schedule
  • Detailing the events that are up next
  • Sharing a link to get signed up right away.

Direct members to members-only resources

Does your site offer a newsletter archive? Exclusive access to paid publications? A members-only library of professional development webinars? Make sure your new members know how to access these resources.

Encourage personal connections

Follow up with a phone call

In-boxes today are overflowing, and while email can be a useful tool for sharing information, nothing engages a member more than a personal connection. Personal contacts are invaluable and likely one of the big reasons the member joined your organization in the first place. Let your members connect with you first, find out what they are most interested in, make sure their questions are answered and encourage them to get involved.  

Use the buddy system

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Connect each new member with a seasoned member. Pair up members whose businesses are either similar–not a direct competitor–or is the type of business the new member wants to meet. Encourage the seasoned member to schedule a one-on-one or introduce the new member around at the next event.

Find out if they want to offer member-to-member deals

Giving your members an opportunity to offer exclusive deals to fellow members can be a great excuse for a little one-on-one networking.

Encourage online connections

Welcome new members on social media

Be sure to share something specific about their business, like what they specialize in, or a fun fact about them that will make others want to check them out. Include a link to your new member’s business listing from your site. Visit your members’ social media pages, share any interesting finds to your chamber or association’s account. Everyone benefits from cross-promotion!

Welcome new members on your site’s home page or blog

Does your new member need help reaching a larger audience for any major initiative they’re doing in the next 6 months?  Offer to include a write up on your association’s blog or news page.  Add a new member welcome section to your site’s home page. This is a great way to introduce new members to the current membership. 

How to create a welcome new member process

You probably already have some form of welcome sequence for new members. Formalizing the process can help you find the best ways to onboard new members by focusing on what is working and eliminating what is not. 

Step 1: Map out your current process

Start by outlining every interaction between new members and the organization for the first year of membership. This will give you a visual of your current process for welcoming new members.

Step 2: Consider the member experience

Examine your process from the new member’s point of view. What do they need to know right away?  What activities are most engaging?  What are the most frequently asked questions? Is some of the information related, does it make sense to group and send it together? What information needs to go to every member vs. information that should only go to members interested in a specific topic, like volunteering for example. 

Step 3:  Organize your member onboarding process

Group similar activities into campaigns. Prioritize the elements of each campaign based on the value to the organization vs. the perceived member value to give you a method for sorting the most important elements to the top. Organize your campaigns based on the following:

  • Be concise, be available
  • Maintain steady contact for the first 90 days of membership
  • Get new members engaged and connected  

Step 4: Track and iterate

Create a schedule. How many emails will each member receive? Is there a call to action included in each?  Who will call each new member? Track member contacts and responses so you know what is working.  Follow up with members after the first 90 days. Consider updating or tweaking your process based on member feedback.

When should we start our member onboarding process?

Right away!  You don’t need fancy software. All you need to do is be thoughtful, plan out your process and listen to your members. Ask them why they joined. Ask them again in 6 months what their favorite member benefits are. Ask them what changes they would like to see.  

Don’t be afraid to update your process for welcoming new members as you grow. Your members are your most valuable resource. Getting them engaged right away builds a stronger organization.

Focus on developing a process that helps new members get acclimated, and easily locate the connections and resources their membership provides. Connect to internal staff processes as well for efficiency. Your main goal is to develop an organized, measurable process that lets you delight and retain your members.

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