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Avenues of Influence

January 1, 2005

by Carolyn Schwaar

Whether it's to attract participation, influence activity, or create an impression, each association has its proven ways of reaching out to members.

Attract Members & Volunteers

Create a Mentor Program
Enlisting experienced members to support new members is a great way to get both generations involved in the association.

Schedule Networking Sessions
These informal gatherings always attract a crowd, and they're a great platform for promoting your association's services and programs. Attach a theme to the event or target a specific member segment.

Personally Invite Members
Members say they're honored when the executive officer or the president of the association personally reaches out to solicit their feedback or assistance.

Form an International Council
Connect with practitioners from different ethnic backgrounds by forming an international council that focuses on serving multicultural communities.

Create a Positive Image

Offer Your Expertise
Let your members know that you're willing to help them solve a business or technology problem.

Solicit Feedback
Member outreach isn't just what you dole out; it's also what you get back. Show members you value their input by asking them to fill out convenient and frequent surveys.

Build Online Communities
Build an online community for members by hosting a real estate issue chat room or message board at your Web site.

Visit Offices
AEs who frequently visit member offices say it's an important information-gathering technique and generates invaluable goodwill.

Personalize
Enhance one-size-fits-all service by offering value-added information and programs targeted at individual members' needs.

Maintain Visibility
Have representatives attend important community events and tap the local media to keep your association and its leaders in the public eye.

Have Fun
Although the popularity of golf tournaments is declining, find ways to show members the association's fun side with games and entertainment at general meetings.

Inspire Action

Rally for a Cause
Unite members behind a charity or cause, like a Habitat for Humanity home build. You'll not only build a house, but morale and camaraderie.

Assign an Outreach Coordinator
This member or staff person can ensure that outreach, in all its various forms, is an association priority.

Train Member Spokespeople
Employ well-briefed members to be key press contacts on current issues. Use these informed, enthusiastic volunteers to keep in contact with local elected officials and promote association causes.

Communicate Often
Use print, e-mail, telephone, and word-of-mouth to get your message out early and often to members. Assign key members to rally the troops.

Build Coalitions
Seek partnerships with community groups, policymakers, and other associations. Together, you'll forge a stronger front for advocacy. You'll also be able to share expenses.