Networking is undoubtedly one of the top reasons people join professional associations, and live events are irreplaceable opportunities for members to connect and learn from each other. One of our association clients, CREW Seattle & Sound really delivers on this member benefit through their hugely successful monthly luncheons which regularly attract more than 150 attendees. CREW strategically maximizes the value of their events, using their luncheons as both a new member recruitment and new member welcome tool, all while delivering a unique and memorable experience to members. Curious how they do it? We’ve shared some of their secrets for success below:
1. Provide tools ahead of time
CREW, for instance, provides a number of tools to its members before they even arrive, including speaker presentation materials and an attendee list. When attendees are able to review materials ahead of time, they are able to really absorb what the speaker is saying and can come prepared with questions. The attendee list allows members to formulate their networking strategy in advance. These pre-event resources come at virtually no cost to the association, and help get more members fully engaged during each event.
2. Give new members the VIP treatment
CREW does a beautiful job of engaging new members from the get-go. They reserve a table near the front of the room for new members, making them feel warmly welcomed by pairing them with other newcomers. This places them in the comfort zone right away, alleviating that tickle of anxiety some get when they walk into a room of 150 unfamiliar faces wondering where they should sit. CREW also identifies newbies with “New Member” nametag ribbons, and they’ve created a culture where veteran members can regularly be seen striking up conversations and introducing new members to others.
3. Offer relevant, high-quality content
A difficult reality and challenge for associations today is the competition they face from other organizations, educational resources, and the many other obligations that stretch members time for professional development and networking. CREW volunteers spend substantial energy and resources planning luncheon programs and networking events that deliver relevant content and high-caliber speakers, plus memorable touches like exclusive access and tours of newsworthy projects, swag giveaways, and interactive discussions, to make their events an essential ingredient to each member’s professional success.
4. Invite prospective members and guests
For professionals in a competitive and tight-knit industry such as commercial real estate, networking is a necessity. By securing high-caliber speakers and planning programs focused on timely topics, CREW attracts non-members to drop in, expanding networking opportunities for existing members, and introducing CREW to prospective members. Members are always encouraged to bring guests, and CREW makes it easy for members to register guests on their event registration forms. Inviting non-members to events also serves as a valuable member recruitment tool, with many guests applying for membership following their attendance at each luncheon!