2020 is a year of challenges for most associations. Like any other profession, we prefer one-on-one engagement at networking events or attending in-person presentations. All of which makes us feel more connected with others in our industry. Without it, member engagement can come to a complete halt. All of which may last until at least early the spring of 2021.
So how can you keep your members engaged? Technology may help bridge the gap. Virtual meeting applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, GoTo Meeting, WebEx, Skype, Join.me, Microsoft Team, and others may be one way to address our new reality. Leveraging these tools may be the best way to meet this challenge. So here are a few suggestions:
Start with scheduling a single meeting. Advertise it well in advance.
Next, schedule multiple meetings per month. This will give your members a variety of options.
Choose a variety of topics of interest to your members. Not all meetings need to be industry-specific. Some can be about business practices. Others can be about personal development.
Schedule a chapter happy hour as an informal networking event. This is a great way to get members reconnected.
Try using small breakout sessions during a larger meeting to make it more intimate and encourage networking. Small groups can help establish personal connections.
Encourage chat sessions during the event to help attendees connect with one another. It's a convenient way for members to catch up.
Encourage members to use LinkedIn during the meeting to add to their professional network.
Keeping members engaged during this time of COVID is critical to the long term survival of any association. Web conferencing can help.
Antonio 'Tony' Gutierrez
Technology Chair, NCAHU