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Guest Posts
Membership

5 Ways To Engage Your Association’s Members

XYZ University has defined member engagement as the emotional commitment the member has to the association and its mission. As such, many association executives pose the question: “How do I engage my members in a meaningful way?” The following are five ways (that are relatively inexpensive and not overly time-consuming) to engage your association’s members:

XYZ University has defined member engagement as the emotional commitment the member has to the association and its mission.

As such, many association executives pose the question: “How do I engage my members in a meaningful way?”  The following are five ways (that are relatively inexpensive and not overly time-consuming) to engage your association’s members:

1. Maintain a blog.

Every association should have a blog that addresses key issues, provides opinions and offers expert advice for their industry. Your communications department likely works diligently to put together a monthly newsletter (or something similar) that is distributed to your membership. But only those on the distribution list have the opportunity to read it, and the majority of them are not likely reading every installment. A blog gives you the opportunity to re-purpose content you are already using and distribute it exponentially. And what’s more, if your members enjoy what they read, they’ll distribute the content online as well.

Need contributors? Look to your current association members and other stakeholders. They are experts too. Need to give them extra incentive? Get a few members to commit to submitting a monthly piece, and as a thank you, offset some of their membership fees, give them discounted or free advertising in your publications or recognition at an upcoming event.

2. Show off the stars.

Start a Member of the Month (or week) program. Advise your community about what they have done to earn the spot (through their volunteerism or research for the industry, for example). Have an area on your website home page that showcases the member and link it back to your blog for a full article. Get your members involved once the program is up and running by starting an nomination process.

3. Educate them on their time.

In many cases, the professional development programming is solely focused around a big conference. Keeping programming for your conference is OK, but many of your members may  not even be able to attend for many reasons–timing, location, price. Having regular webinars to help increase the chances of your members gaining their required credits, or just news regarding your industry, is a great way to keep them informed. It also establishes credibility and provides extra value for why members should care to be involved throughout the year; not just at conference time.

It can also be a new potential source of revenue for the organization. Making webinars available on demand for purchase by your community can also drive revenue to your organization’s bottom line.

4. Push the envelope.

After inviting your community to join you online in either a public social media platform or private online community, start posting questions to get people talking. This is a great way to get your network talking to each other, sharing ideas, opinions and articles of relevance. This can also give you the inside scoop on topics that interest your audience so you can continue to engage with them online.

5. Use video.

Everyone likes watching videos, and you could incorporate this into your engagement strategy for many aspects within your organization. Your conference delegates, exhibitors and sponsors could be on video talking about your events and why they are a wonderful way to network and educate. Your association’s executive director could have a monthly vlog that is only available to members (think the “members-only” section of your website) or, on a private online community.

Engaging your members is the ultimate goal for associations today; get the creative juices flowing within your organization to take the necessary steps to engage them NOW and in the future.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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