Your members are the heart and soul of your association, but they don’t often come right out and tell you when they’re losing interest, running out of time, or unhappy with the direction in which the association is going. They just drop off, and you’re left with lower attendance, wondering what happened.
Here are some ways to read your members so you can troubleshoot things like decreased engagement and dwindling membership!
1) Body Language
You can probably tell what a bored person looks like. Wandering eyes, diverted attention towards smart phones, nodding off. Do you see any of those people in your events? Boredom is a big indicator that your events might not be providing the value you initially intended. What about signs of aggression or anger? Do you notice furrowed brows, defensive postures, or tense movements in your meetings? Signs of displeasure are a big reason more active members disengage.
2) Career movement
Your association may be offering some amazing benefits to your members, but their jobs come first. Have you noticed a lot of career transitions lately, either spikes in unemployment and layoffs or lots of new promotions and hiring? Both are reasons for member disengagement, but for drastically different reasons. Adjust your programming to address these trends!
3) Ease of communication
Are E-mails getting ignored? Are you having a hard time getting people on the phone? When you start to notice communication dropping off with individuals who are usually reachable, it’s a good indicator that something else is going on. Try other methods of communication and when you do get ahold of the person, find out why communication has dropped off lately.
4) Event success
This one seems obvious, but are your events well attended with good participation? If not, it could be a good indicator that future events and member engagement might be dropping off. Be fiercely honest with yourself: REALLY why may your attendance be down? True, it could be a fluke, bad location, or bad timing. But if it’s the programming or how your association is operating... that will create future issues!
5) The Industry
When there are big changes in your industry it inevitably ripples down to your association, for the simple reason that your members are slammed, stressed, and probably working more. Be very dialed in to the changes and evolution of your association’s industry.
The goal is engagement. Sometimes your members are telling you how involved they are without actually TELLING you! All you need to do is pay attention.