We are human beings, not machines. Sometimes I think we forget that as we run from place to place, trying to keep up with never ending demands on our time, trying to keep up with the direction our technological driven lives lead us daily. I see it all the time. People with their heads down buried in their smart phone, tablet or laptop. Every time the phone beeps, rings or vibrates with a new call or reminder, we ironically put everyone around us on hold and devote all of our attention to the device at hand.
It’s kind of like standing at the counter of a retail store talking with a customer service rep and they “put you on hold” to answer a phone call, instead of the other way around. It’s very frustrating. After all, you made the effort to actually show up.
That’s what as organizations based on serving others, we must keep in mind – we’re in the people business. People needing our help. People depending on us to help make their lives better – both professional and personal.
My mother passed away last Wednesday. It’s hard to look at those words on my screen and make sense of everything connected to their meaning. Her last four months were spent in multiple hospitals; where there was a constant push to help her to get better while fighting to maintain her dignity through it all. And there was technology – lots of technology. But ultimately, the technology didn’t save her. The technology was just the tools available to help the doctors and nurses tend to her. But what really mattered to her and our family was the people using the technology. It was the personal connection, the one-to-one engagement that made those days and nights more tolerable for us all.
YourMembership.com is in the technology business. There’s no denying it. And the software and tools we develop for membership and cause-oriented organizations are built around the idea promoted in our tag line – Connect. Engage. Grow. Quite simply, we want to help save time and resources, cutting down the time staff is tied up in administrative and clerical tasks, and freeing them to make deeper, more meaningful connections with their members and constituents. The technology works best when you are able to accomplish this.
During one of the many days I sat working in my mom’s room, I looked up and realized how many different associations were being represented – nursing, physical therapy, physicians assistant, occupation therapy, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, hospital pharmacists, and more. All working in concert to care for her. Being in the association business I found this fascinating.
As the weeks passed and I got to know them personally I asked a number of them whether or not they belonged to the association that represented them in the business world, and if so, what was their perception of their membership. It was very enlightening. Many were so overwhelmed with the daily lives that while they knew they belonged to an association, they could not express the value of their membership or describe what the organization was doing on their behalf.
I remember talking with Tara, a young nurse working in her first job about her association. She acknowledged that she was a member, but because of her hectic schedule – working at the hospital three days and the remainder of the week as an in-home nurse just to pay the bills – she didn’t know much about her association. I asked her about professional development. She told me she received a lot of offers in the mail, but couldn’t recall if any came from her association. What about career opportunities? She didn’t know if they offered any help with that.
What seemed apparent to me was that here was someone really in need of their association but lacked the personal connection and engagement that could really be of help as she worked to build her career. Nursing, by the way, is projected to be one of the most in demand careers in America for the next 15 years.
It’s really about being intentional in our daily actions and interactions. It is about providing value and meaning to the content we share and the services we provide.
It’s about providing a forum for people to connect, even when they can’t be there in person. An online community is an excellent (virtual) venue where you can accomplish this.
And speaking of social networking, what kind of connection and engagement are you building there. Are you loading up your daily dose of tweets to show you are social media savvy? Are you attempting to show you care in 144 characters or less? Do you think that’s enough? If so, maybe it’s time to re-examine your social media strategy.
I know for many of you, building deeper connections with your members is what keeps you up at night. We feel the same way, and are constantly working to offer content and resources that can help you accomplish that goal. We look forward to sharing a lot of great, actionable ideas on how to enhance your member community at Xperience 2014, our annual users conference, March 31 – April 4, in St. Petersburg. We hope to see you there.
On the morning my mom passed many of the people who had been taking care of her stood by us, held us, and grieved with us as we mourned. I could feel the very deep connection they had made with her, and how much they cared for her and us in this sad time. It meant so much to us, and helped get us through the day.
So I leave you with this question – what are you doing today to make that important connection with your members? Do they know how much you care about them?