This seems like odd advice to give someone who works in a membership organization. What do you mean join a group? I run one! If you run a group, it has probably been a very long time since you were new to the group you currently head. The experience of being a newbie may be tucked into the back of your mind and the details fuzzy or rewritten in an I remember when… context.
Being part of a new group gives you perspective of a new member experience. This week I joined the PTA at my children’s school for the first time and attended my first meeting (new both to this school and new school year). Granted only a small portion of the attendees (twenty people out of 100+) were new and had no idea what was going on but the newbies had paid our dues just like the veteran attendees had. My experience? I received lots of helpful information on the upcoming events but I spent most of the meeting feeling like I had just tuned in to a show already in progress. There was no welcome message, no suggestions on how I could get the most out of this meeting, no expectations communicated. Will I attend again? Of course, this group involves a responsibility in something larger than myself but if I had this same experience at a marketing association meeting, would I? Maybe.
Reading about other member organizations’ experiences is helpful, as is connecting with people in similar roles through social media but how people communicate what their group is like may differ greatly from an actual member’s experience. Joining another member organization helps you to see/experience how others do things, not the way they hope to do things, or imagine it’s done. How do they recruit? What do they do for on-boarding? How do they continue to keep you involved? Seeing things from a fresh perspective may very well give you one of your own