Looking to show your value while building lasting relationships with your members? Then it’s time to dust off your onboarding process!

Onboarding is an area that often gets a “set it and forget it” type approach. You have your beautifully crafted welcome email that goes out along with a social media or newsletter mention of the new member, and then your attention gets pulled into the deeper work of putting together programs and delivering the value you’ve promised. But what if, with a few simple extra steps, you could create a more relational and nurturing onboarding process that sets the tone for a sustainable, loyal, ongoing relationship with new members?

As you onboard a new member, this is often the first member experience an organization has with your Chamber or association. What does this experience look like for your members? Organizations have found that the onboarding journey involves building a community, not just followers. I often ask clients “would the steps of your onboarding be relevant and meaningful to you if you were a new member?”

Engage new members right away.

  • Make it as easy as possible for them to participate. (Participate can mean many things)
  • Remove any technical challenges.
  • Deliver immediate value.
  • Integrate the member into your community.
  • Encourage content consumption and creation

Remember, your members are busy and have their own set of priorities and challenges to deal with each day.  Are you stopping them in their tracks? Wowing them? All it takes is demonstrating the value of their membership with relational onboarding. Simply put, Relational onboarding means that you are nurturing and welcoming new members in a way that puts less emphasis on the transaction and more focus on laying the foundation for a sustainable relationship. We know that building relationships is essential to providing value to members.

To be relational while welcoming new members, it’s best to segment your strategy so that you are providing a personalized onboarding experience. Your onboarding process should not be the same for small businesses and large entities. Instead, customize the messaging in videos and emails, and the timeline you use based on the “Why” of each segment of members. The reason small organizations become members can vary greatly from large corporations, so your messaging should reflect these differences. If you really want to build strong relationships, you could go a step further and customize your messaging by industry or other factors.

Three tips for a strategic approach to onboarding new members:

  1. Members invest in experiences and outcomes that an investment delivers
    1. Make sure your onboarding educates members throughout the year on what their investment is doing for the business community and how this translates to their own business success. What does their investment allow you to accomplish? In return, what value are you delivering to them? Make sure they know this. Running a “Did You Know” campaign is a great way to educate.
  2. Divide new members into two segments and move them each through a relevant new member journey.
    1. List out the “Why” these members have joined your organization, along with the priorities for small businesses. Now do the same for large businesses. Where do you see overlap and where do you need to customize your approach?
  3. Go beyond a simple email campaign.
    1. Blend your welcome messaging with on-demand videos, social media, in-person visits, and phone calls. Involve your staff, team, and volunteers to build depth in the member business and in the Chamber or association.

Remember, even if you are a small organization with a staff of only one or two people, you can create a relational onboarding process. Your team can be paid staff or committed volunteers that help lay the groundwork for a sustainable relationship with new members.

Shari Pash is the founder of Strategic Solutions for Growth, a training company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. Shari works with Chambers of Commerce, non-profit organizations, and associations across the United States and Canada on strategic membership growth. Connect with Shari to learn more about how she can add value to your organization.