With face-to-face meetings off the table for the foreseeable future, many professional associations are hustling to ensure continuity and be connected to their members who are working from home. In this turmoil, knowing that your association is there to provide guidance and a sense of community can be a breath of fresh air for members dealing with the current uncertainties. And in the long run – associations that successfully navigated these times and valued their stakeholders will be the ones benefitting from a loyal member-base.
It is the right moment then to invest in those digital tools that are all the rage right now. Moving membership engagement efforts on a digital platform means giving a space where people stuck at home can be productive by collaborating, sharing information and learning while practicing social distancing.
So, what is essential to keep in mind when taking the leap from offline to online?
We reached out to Marcel Ewals, Director of Association Management and Consulting for MCI in Asia Pacific, to advice professional associations with some simple guidelines to follow when starting their digital adventure.
Technology is only a tool, and it doesn't work by itself. To drive results to your community software, a few basic elements are necessary to start:
Integration with other valuable features is another great leap forward. Including a learning management solution not only allows the community to have access to your knowledge-base and increase the membership value, it also allows for new revenue streams to be created. Whether or not it has credits, it is important to retain, rehash and re-utilise learning material.Your community evolves but also a lot of “older” material could be extremely interesting for younger generations. Make it available for free, to develop the engagement level of the younger members.
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In an ideal world, we want to use the strength of people meeting in person through any engagement method. Today's digital technologies allow us to come closer to this reality than ever before. We can now start a discussion on what is relevant online and be able to prepare a much more focused event. This can be achieved by listening to a wider spectrum than the usual advisory committee to address the needed association focus as well as conference topics.
Then again, we can continue all discussions without losing the energy we had during a conference to carry on conversations online. This way, the online to offline and back online is the theory of the movement towards the digital member.
in this strange time, with travel and event restrictions, making use of technology to replace live engagement is of utmost importance. Indeed, part of the community will be preoccupied, but there are always opportunities. For example, people who have to stay at home can review online leanings, recover CPD points and engage with thought leaders.
Now it’s the time to challenge your community to get online and move the needs in the right direction. Get in touch if you'd like to know how we can help you.