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Recruiting Association Members

By Richard G. Ensman, Jr. July 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Sure, your association conducts an annual membership campaign and provides promotional kits to those who don’t belong. But the most loyal, committed and involved members are those recruited one-on-one by other association members or, in short, by you. Don’t wait for your membership committee to undertake its next recruitment initiative. Start right now. Following is a list of strategies you can use.

      The buddy. Be a true partner to a new member by serving as a mentor for the first several years of their membership. Educate and involve the new member, and you’ll help build their commitment for life.

      The compliment. Let prospective members know that you want them to join. Praise and compliments can work wonders.

      The deal. Can’t get a seemingly interested member to join? Ask a simple question:  What will it take to get you to become a member? Then attempt to make it happen.

      The holiday. Does your association celebrate a national commemorative day? Does the national media cover your industry periodically? If the answer is yes, use one of these occasions to make contact with prospective members and extend personal invitations to join.

      The impact. When you have the opportunity to talk with prospective members, don’t speak about abstract principles. Explain what association membership has meant to you in tangible ways and what it can mean to them, as well.

      The incentive. Make it easy for prospective members to join. Offer to pay for an initial aspect of their membership—first-quarter dues, a trip to your convention or some other membership benefit.

      The introduction. When you meet prospective members, make a point to introduce them to key members, committee chairs and other enthusiastic supporters of your association.

      The location. Schedule an informal luncheon meeting or other event in a restaurant near a prospective member’s place of business. Let them know that the gathering is being held at that specific location especially for their convenience.

      The multiple invitation. Having trouble recruiting potential members with your own invitation? Ask other members to call, as well.

      The need. Ask prospective members what they’re looking for in terms of industry support, training, education and networking. Chances are good that your association can fulfill their requirements.

      The newspaper. Keep your eyes peeled for news about other professionals in your industry. When you read about them, compare their names against your membership directory. If they’re not a part of your association, it’s time to extend an invitation.

      The sound-out. Do you want to recruit some people you don’t know very well? Stage a sound-out session that consists of a one-on-one meeting with a prospect, marked by informal conversation about your association. Or, it might involve a small group round-table with opportunities available for asking questions and sharing information.

      The party. Many people don’t join associations because they feel out of place. Because of this, it is important to involve your prospective members in something informal and fun, such as a golf outing or a reception.

      The pride. If you’re like most members, your association is a source of pride for you. The next time it receives an award or is publicly recognized, drop a news clipping or a note to potential members, and invite them to share your sense of honor by joining the group.

      The referral. Choose one or two individuals who are members or prospective members, and ask them to pass along the names of other potential members.

      The telephone call. Do you know a hard-to-attract member? Choose the most prominent regional member of your association—or another individual your prospect might respect highly —and ask that person to make an invitation call.

       The tracking. Once you identify prospective members, don’t lose track of them. Make a note on your calendar to contact them every 60 days or so with information and news about your association.

      The wheels. Offer a ride to prospective members to attend a chapter meeting or other association event. And be sure to chat about the group’s activities on the way.

      The young members. Cast your eye on talented younger people—the up-and-coming leaders of your industry who may guide your association years from now. Many of these individuals don’t yet receive invitations to join business groups and may be highly receptive to a heartfelt invitation from you.

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