Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of organizations that share with me that the most important part of their work is done through the connections built at live in-person events. They tell me that the events feel different and that when members walk into the room, they feel like they are with “their people.”
Have you ever felt that kind of powerful connection? …perhaps with your own membership, but also maybe with a group of friends, or at an organization where you volunteer, or maybe on a sports team?
There’s something magnetic about being around people who truly understand and accept you. When you gather a whole bunch of people who feel that way about each other, the experience becomes even more magnetic.
Most membership organizations are gathered around common interests that make logical sense – people who work in the same industry, parents who have children in the same school, patients who have the same healthcare condition. However, not all of these organizations will foster that same sort of powerful connection between people.
So, what is it that makes the difference? What takes an organization between people who “are alike” and morphs them into people who “actually like” each other?
I personally believe that organizations that do this well are actually like really great dinner party hosts.
- They make sure that new people are introduced to each other.
- They point out commonalities and use conversation-starters to build connections.
- They are watchful for awkward silences, jumping in when someone is looking lost or disconnected.
- They keep things moving, ensuring that food and drink are flowing and that entertainment is enjoyable.
Great hosts know that these things don’t just naturally happen. It always takes pre-planning and a watchful eye during the experience, but when done effectively, people remember the party as a place where they made some great connections…just like they’ll come to know your organization as a place where they experience deep connections if you also do these sorts of things for your members.
In this week’s podcast episode, I spoke with Julie Sootin who is a fundraising consultant and also the Executive Director for the Association of Development Officers. ADO is one of those organizations where a significant part of the value was built around their in-person gatherings. Julie shared how they shifted to connecting online and what that was like for her group.
You can listen in on that interview here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Is there anything special that YOU do to encourage deep connections among members?
Ways to Work with Me
A flawlessly-delivered, high-value member experience doesn’t happen by accident. It requires thoughtful planning and intentional action.
Here are 4 ways that you can work with me:
- Member Experience Makeover – when you know *something* needs to change, but you aren’t sure exactly what
- Facilitated Focus Day – when you know what to fix but not how to do it, or you can’t stay focused long enough to make the fix happen
- TeamShare – when you need extra hands but don’t know who could possibly have competence in all of the different areas you need
- Wild Apricot – when your current tech (or lack of tech) won’t let you do what you need to do
You can learn about all of these options by clicking here.