Despite the challenges of 2020, your virtual events offer an opportunity for 2021.
Here are seven ways to welcome new members at your virtual events and set the stage for great long-term relationships.
By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands
This year, your association was probably in the same boat as many others. Not only did you have to scramble to move to a work-from-home setting, you also had to keep providing value to members in a new, all-virtual environment.
But now that virtual and hybrid events and other virtual engagement activities have become more of the norm than ever before, here’s one way to flip the challenges of 2020 into an opportunity for 2021: Use your virtual events to make new members feel welcome.
TIP: Learn more about how to move from disruption to opportunity. Read the Community Brands industry study: Association Trends 2020: From Disruption to Opportunity
Of course, you likely have some form of member onboarding process that includes “welcome” emails and other activities. But, virtual events offer a wealth of opportunities to make new members feel more at home as well.
Here are 7 ways to welcome new members at your virtual events – making them feel appreciated and setting the stage for great long-term relationships:
1. Create a welcome banner. Make new members feel welcome and appreciated right off the bat by posting a “welcome, new members” digital banner on your virtual event web page, registration page, and/or registration thank you page.
2. Offer a special registration discount. What says “we appreciate you” more than a discount? Make new members feel extra special by creating a discounted registration level just for them.
3. Offer a special virtual event bag. This might include a welcome message, a list of activities just for new members, and special discount codes or gift cards for association or sponsor products and services.
TIP: Community Brands research indicates that 76 percent of members join a professional organization as a student, new graduate, or within the first five years of employment. Since most of your new members likely fall into this group of early careerists, consider adding promotions for your association’s career advancement resources to your virtual event bag.
4. Give them a shout out. Give your new members a shout out via social media using your virtual event hashtag. Also, ask your executive director and/or board of directors to recognize and welcome them during the event kick-off session.
5. Help them get plugged in. There are multiple ways to connect new members with each other and other members of your organization. For example:
- Provide an area for new members to connect before and after the event. For example, set up a new member discussion group in your online community.
- Depending on how many new members you have, share their names, where they’re from, and their headshots (with permission) on slides during your event, and invite other attendees to welcome them. You can even ask highly involved members to reach out to new members directly to welcome them and offer to answer any questions they might have.
- Offer a networking virtual event where new members can quickly connect with each other and existing members. As a bonus, you can sell a sponsorship for this event.
6. Include them in the wrap-up. In your follow-up emails, include a special thank you message to new members for attending.
7. Ask for their feedback. Send a special post-event survey for new members. Ask what they found most useful about the event and what would have made it even better. Then, use their feedback to inform new member activities for your next virtual event.
TIP: YourMembership association management software has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and collect feedback.
Find out more about how to make new members feel welcome and appreciated in a virtual environment. Watch the on-demand webinar: The Naughty and Nice Checklist: A Successful New Member Digital Onboarding Strategy.