3 Quick Tips for Enhancing Member Engagement

By • November 5, 2012

By Dana Plotke

The more time you spend around associations, the more you realize it’s a people business based on some very simple principles: your key influencers, the dedication of your members and the positive (or negative) image your organization projects.

Take last month’s ASAE annual meeting in Dallas. David Carrithers and Giulietta Versiglia of Affinity Center International, Mike Spellecy of Martiz and Ron Worth, executive director of the National Society of Marketing Services Professionals held a provacative session about member loyalty and engagement. Below are three of my favorite takeaways from the panelists.

  • Every association has its key influencers and advocates. Don’t be shy about asking them to help you build your brand and gain exposure to new markets and new members.
  • If you want the job done right, assign important committee responsibilities to members. Don’t wait for volunteers.
  • Projecting an enthusiastic and optimistic attitude at your organization is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to build member engagement.

Below are three of my favorite takeaways from the panelists, paired with some personal commentary:

#1: People are going to do what they are going to do, so why not position your organization to benefit from it?

Said another way: Grab the low hanging fruit from your key influencer group, and give them the tools and support they need to get the word out on your behalf. Every association has its connectors, mavens and salespeople – they are the “20” from the 80/20 rule. The question is, are you maximizing their involvement and making it easy for them to expose your brand to new member prospects? If not, there is no time like the present.

From personal experience, you should consider sending your key influencer group two copies of your next membership magazine, along with a personal note encouraging them to share the extra with a non-member colleague. Be sure to follow up by phone to ensure they received the issue, to find out who they plan to share it with and to thank them for being a brand evangelist! Check out for more ideas and resources related to creating actionable, word of mouth marketing initiatives.

#2: Assign committee responsibilities to your members, don’t rely on volunteers.

Speaking of volunteers … did you know that one of the best ways to build trust is to ask someone to do you a favor? Of course you did. So, what would happen if instead of asking a member to volunteer on one of your committees, you simply gave them a job to do? Would you get pushback? My guess is a little, but overall, I bet you would see member engagement skyrocket. So, stop waiting for them to offer, and tell them what you need them to do.

Personally speaking, I’m a fan of It’s great inspiration for getting people fired up!

#3 Emotions are contagious

This was presented as a leadership tip for building loyalty and, in my opinion, has got to be one of simplest and most effective tips for enhancing member engagement. People like to work (and play) with people that make them feel good. It starts at the top, but make no mistake, it cannot end there. From the receptionist who answers the phone to the volunteers who are making calls on your behalf, an enthusiastic and optimistic attitude is a must for building engagement.

Have you already tried any of the above tips for engaging your members? If so,
how did it work? I’d love to hear from you by email,
or, share your story in our Linked In Association
Executive Roundtable Group

You can also check out these fundamental principles for becoming a better marketer from a recent Association Adviser enews article I wrote: “In a Fast-Changing World, Some Things Never Change” by Dana Plotke.


Dana Plotke has worked in B2B marketing and communications for more than 15 years, with a focus on association media and events since 2002. She leads the marketing efforts of Naylor, LLC.

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