By Rachel Markey | April 10, 2020
Staying connected to your community is especially important in times of uncertainty. While this makes sense, figuring out how to maintain communication and overall unity can be challenging when social distancing guidelines are in place and you and your members are abruptly thrown into a work-from-home scenario. Here are some ways to combat feelings of isolation and invigorate your mission’s vitality in this brave new world.
- Keep up the good (net)work. Your members are undoubtedly your most valuable asset, and you’ll be flattered to know the feeling is often mutual. Across all industries, joining a trade association affords businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to network with potential clients, partners, employees, customers, and friends. While COVID-19 is impeding in-person opportunities to shake hands and swap business cards, online networking is a viable alternative. If your association doesn’t have one already, now is an optimal time to instate an online messaging board to support your members. Not sure where to start? Hostinger Tutorials breaks down and compares the best forum software options, and Your Membership by Community Brands provides information on how to launch your online community. Once you’re up and running like The Alzheimer’s Association, keep Higher Logic’s online community tips top of mind and marvel at the member connections made. Make sure to grow your association’s grid too. Participating in LinkedIn Groups is also a great way to build valuable relationships, share your expertise, and find solutions to your industry-specific challenges.
- The best laid plans often go astray, but persistence pays off. Your association knows member gatherings of grand scale create unrivaled camaraderie and increased trust. You’re likely also aware even the most calculated conferences and meetings tend to involve unforeseen challenges of some sort (from understaffing to thwarted insight resulting from incomplete data collection). While nothing compares to the unprecedented hurdle of a pandemic, your innovative thinking has equipped you to overcome obstacles of the past and will allow you to surmount the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though your in-person event is no longer an option, transforming your original intention into a virtual alternative maintains your ability to host an event capable of offering members educational and networking opportunities while driving both revenue and growth. Always on the cutting edge, Salesforce explains how to turn an in-person event into a compelling virtual experience, and Capterra compares features and ratings so your association can find the right event management software.
- Don’t confuse the cost of something with its value. Your association likely already offers resources at reduced rates to members, but now is the time to consider offering products and services at significantly discounted rates or for free. The National Association of REALTORS®has a history of curbing the cost of member benefits during difficult times, and the Right Tools, Right Now initiative exemplifies the association’s approach to customized assistance in response to a pandemic. It might be difficult to stomach the idea of a loss of revenue of any size right now, no matter how small. But rest assured discounts like these will not be detrimental to your bottom line; rather, they will enhance your reputation and promote the kind of word-of-mouth marketing Time notes can be, “as effective as traditional advertising.” What you do now to put your members first in this uncertain economy will enhance your identity and strengthen your industry’s solidarity.
As YGS President Jack Davidson notes, “It’s critical to maintain communications not only with your customers and members but with your own teams, as many are adjusting to extended remote work scenarios.” Strengthening connections is essential to your association’s perseverance amid the novel coronavirus crisis. The digital dexterity you develop today to keep in touch with members and keep members informed and in contact with each other can continue to serve as a savvy cornerstone to your success in the calm after this unparalleled storm.