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Person-ifying Your Member Organization

by | Mar 31, 2010 | Industry News & Trends

On my drive into work, I passed an elderly woman waiting to cross the street. She was alone, and as I drove through the intersection she made eye contact with me and smiled. I nearly crashed my car! Here I am in an urban setting and someone reached out to me instead of avoiding eye contact. As I drove on I made excuses for her actions. Maybe she was talking on her phone with an ear piece and she wasn’t smiling at me but at the caller. Maybe she was a little “touched” and I just happened to be there. Maybe she thought I had a really cool car (okay, so I quickly discounted that one). But then again maybe she smiled because it made her feel good and gosh, it’s hard to admit… it made me (the reserved mid-Atlantic-hailing toughie) smile back.

I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies behind member recruitment and retention but I do know how I felt when a complete stranger extended a friendly gesture. Two hours later, I’m still thinking about it; I still remember her face clearly. Is making an impression really this easy?

But she wasn’t the only one who reached out to me this morning. As I was reviewing my Twitter goings-on, a direct message popped up from someone I just followed. You know the type of those auto-replies, “Thanks for following, blah, blah, blah.” But this one was different. He thanked me for following and then suggested three other people I might like as well. (And for those of you cynics out there – these other accounts were totally unrelated to his.) Instead of pushing his own agenda, I got the feeling he was looking out for me. Maybe he tweets the same three people to everyone. Maybe he takes a look at who the follower is and picks out people who he thinks would have something in common or maybe he just rotates three profiles every couple of months. I don’t care. He made me feel welcome. It was like being a new member at an event who doesn’t know a whole lot of people and he took the time to introduce me.

At the risk of oversimplifying the concerns at hand, maybe innovation begins with extending ourselves. We talk about social media and how great it is and we all need to jump on board or become extinct but all of this amazing technology is just that – tools with which we can make connections, harvest data, explore new opportunities. It’s up to us to add the human component. It’s the oil that allows the tools to run effectively. If you’re going to invest time and money in membership management software and an online community make sure you are ready to embrace these systems in a very human way. We’re not here to just sell you a product (although we’d love to). We’re here to help you with your success and in turn your members’ success. If you’re missing the fact that the software we offer is about investing in people (your members), then maybe you’re not ready for social media.

But if you understand that social media is more than just a plan of how many times you’ll tweet a day or an editorial calendar of blog posts, you are well on your way to what it takes to be successful.


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