Efforts to improve Association Member networking pay big benefits for an organization. One of the main reasons people join Associations is member networking. For example, Professional Associations allow practitioners who do the same type of work to meet together outside the organizations where they are employed.
To earn a paycheck, a professional may be one of few handling a specialty at an employer. Advancing skills and staying abreast of innovations in the field becomes challenging in that environment.
Aiming to improve Association Member networking makes sense since joining an Association brings professionals together to not only promote a particular field of endeavor but also to improve the skills and job prospects for individual practitioners.
Members expect an Association to provide networking opportunities. Therefore, organizations providing effective networking tools accelerate member engagement. Here are examples of such tools:
One way Associations can encourage networking is to provide communications tools to Members. One of the most basic tools is the Membership Directory. Beyond merely listing Members’ names, the Directory should seek to publish more in-depth information like:
By including this information, Members can find people with similar interests. The Association can help this process by including filters and advanced search capabilities.
Another feature would be Member-to-Member messaging. Once Members have found each other via the Directory, having a communication tool to actually make a connection will accelerate the networking process.
Networking is a numbers game. The more contacts, the more opportunities. However, as volume increases, the ability to keep everyone straight is challenging. Providing the ability to store notes about a network contact can serve as “memory augmentation.” If notes are made along the way in a networking relationship, valuable tidbits can be gleaned from these notes so every contact can be magnified.
Connected members serve as a fundamental strength for the Association. Members who view the Association as a nexus of their professional and social network value their membership more. This leads to increased membership renewals and optimal revenue flows. Therefore, providing robust tools to improve Association Member networking should be a top priority for Association leaders.