How to host an orientation that makes new members feel at home

Hosting a new member orientation is a great way to engage new members.

Here are seven effective ideas for hosting an online orientation that makes new members feel welcome and involved right away.

Michelle Schweitz, YourMembership Marketing Manager


By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands


When you’re new to a situation, there are some basic things that can make you feel comfortable and engaged right away: getting the lay of the land, knowing what to expect, and meeting others in your same circumstances. The same goes for your new members.

Hosting an online orientation is a great way to engage new members with your organization and other new members. When done well, an orientation helps new members get plugged in right away. It helps them find their way and make new friends. This ultimately leads to a better member experience and greater member loyalty. Everyone wins.

Here are seven ideas for hosting an online orientation that will make your new members feel right at home:

1. Make it brief.
Keep the orientation webinar to 30 minutes. Your new members will be more likely to join if they don’t have to carve out a full hour of their day.

2. Include a loyal member.
Ask a highly engaged current member to co-host the orientation webinar. Your new members will be more interested and engaged if they can hear directly from a peer about their experience with your organization.

3. Start with the basics.
Focus on the most important information so that you don’t overwhelm new members. Some things to include:

    • A brief overview of your association, including mission, number of members, and member benefits/value.
    • Introduction of staff. If possible, ask your staff to use their webcams so they can say hi directly and make things more personal.
    • Key resources for members, such as your online member community and online career center, as well as any key dates, such as your annual meeting or conference.

TIP: Don’t have an online member community yet? Read The Small Association’s Guide to Getting Started with an Online Community

4. Do a demo.
Present a live walk-through of your online member community. Show them how to log in, where to access your events calendar, and how to do things like join and subscribe to discussion groups. The faster they become familiar with the member community, the more likely they will become engaged and use the online community to its full potential.

5. Encourage introductions.
Ask members to introduce themselves to each other. Depending on how many new members you have, you might need to break up your orientation into smaller sessions to allow time for the meet-and-greet. Take it a step further by setting up a new member group in your online community and encouraging new members to continue interacting there.

6. Provide contact information.
Let members know how they can communicate with your organization. For example, provide contact information, social media details, and a link for a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on your online community where members can go for answers and support. Be sure to send a follow-up email after the orientation with these important details.

7. Allow time for questions.
Include time at the end of your orientation to answer any questions. Consider staying on the webinar for 10-15 minutes after the orientation to continue answering questions.

Learn more
What better way to get started than by watching a how-to for new member orientations? Watch the on-demand webinar, How to host a new member orientation in 30 minutes.

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