The most important thing about building membership is the people responsible have to like people! I would even venture to say the organization building a membership has to be in it to SERVE members. Most big companies see membership as a list of people to sell services to. If this is your organization, you will never succeed. Get out of the business now.
Membership is built on honesty, trust, listening, and then delivering on the services most important to the membership you serve. This is not to say you need to deliver everything the membership asks for, but if you can’t deliver, explain why. People will understand that it takes human and financial resources to deliver services and products. Let your membership know you have to prioritize based on the needs of the members, and be honest!
As a membership director myself, I am in the early stages of building out the infrastructure of the Software Test & Performance (STP) association and I have to prioritize. We are working on developing a process for our magazine that focuses on delivering on time, valuable, pertinent, relevant, and cutting edge information to deliver to the industry. But how do you do that? Get the industry experts in the process. I am responsible to drive the operational process but the most important part of my job is to highlight the luminaries in the industry and cultivate new talent.
I believe it is critical to elevate as many practitioners in the field to highlight their knowledge of the industry. Often organizations make the mistake of using the same participants all the time. I agree it is easier but the entire industry is served when many perspectives are delivered. This is not to say the respected leaders of the industry are not important, they are critical. But it is important that a membership knows that everyone is considered and valued when it comes to knowledge sharing. There are a lot of ways to attack any issue, and the more perspectives you have on a subject, the better the industry is served.
We are engaged in debates every day, whether it is software testing, IT support, customer service practices, politics, or quilting, everyone has something to share. If you want to get people recognized allow them to participate. Then recognize them as a valued member of the community.
This being my first post as the Director of Membership for Redwood Collaborative, I wanted to extend an open invitation to software testers, and social media experts to engage in our new start-up. You will find that the group of people that make up our company love membership, people, and delivering value. We have worked together for many years and have a track record that speaks for itself.
Our team here at Redwood Collaborative created the largest and most respected Membership, Event, and Training business in the IT Support industry. We are honored to do it again for our software testers, and social media experts. We know we can be successful if we do the one thing that big organizations can’t do; deliver the services you need with quality and consistency. And we do it because we love helping people to be the best they can be.
You just can’t fake it; you have to really care about people…