A few years ago, I joined an association with the best of intentions to be fully engaged.  After all, I had already been highly active in a couple of other associations, so how would this be any different?  How could I not find my way in this new organization? I went as far as directly contacting several executives from the association who are active on social media, making it clear that I wanted to get involved.  And then I waited.

And waited…and nothing happened.

Undeterred, I again tried to engage again via social media… this time I actually received a response:

“So happy to have you, KiKi.”

“Good luck.”

And without knowing it, my membership clock started ticking.  I could already tell what I was going to get out of this membership.

Today I am no longer a member of that association. Shocking, I know…but without that necessary engagement, it didn’t seem valuable enough for me to stick around.

As simple as it sounds, as Association Professionals (#assnprofs), we must make it easy for our members to join and get involved in our associations.

What would have worked for me:

  • Automatic emails about upcoming association events, especially volunteer-led, in my area. They had many gatherings in my area, but I always seemed to find out about them after it was too late. This should highlight to us all the importance of coordination between association headquarters and volunteer-efforts.
  • Connecting with “mentors” from the association. If one of the association’s active members had reached out to me (and I mean really engaged), I probably would have felt more connected to the community. Maybe I could have tried reaching out even more, but a phone call or email from a member would have helped reel me back into the association.  Again, it’s hard to expect a totally one-sided effort from your members.  Don’t leave them hanging!
  • Reminders of the benefits of having a membership. To this organization’s credit, they were fairly good at this, but I was most interested in the networking aspect and that was what I felt was missing.  Had I had the chance to tell them so, I would have.

Writing this, I wonder if I shouldn’t give that association another chance. After all, maybe I could have done more on my end and if I know the community is there, than it should just be a matter of connecting to the right people, right?  But like everyone else, my life is busier now than it was three years ago and I’m not sure the juice would be worth the squeeze. It has to be easier than that.

– Kiki


Photo by: Omdur


KiKi L’Italien is a member experience strategist for Aptify. She specializes in creating high impact online communications and initiatives using integrated media. A catalyst by nature, KiKi tends to bring unique ideas and dramatic results out of projects with her own brand of entrepreneurial moxie. KiKi helps associations connect with client and member communities beyond “doing” social networking through thoughtful social media outreach and member experience testing; fostering business growth via socially enabled organizations. KiKi is a contributing author to Social Networking for Nonprofits: Increasing Engagement in a Mobile and Web 2.0 World (ASAE, 2010), and co-author of the Best Practices for Social Media Networking series among other published works. A regular columnist for dozens of blogs and guest commentator on several podcasts, she also hosts the weekly Association Chat (#assnchat) for association and nonprofit professionals held every Tuesday on Twitter. She blogs at Acronym Soup.

Bear Analytics is very excited to have Kiki as a guest blogger for Bearsmarts.