Posted on Jul 21, 2022

Congratulations! You got a new member. We all know it takes a lot of effort to recruit new members to your association. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have a strategy around what you do next: onboard!

Onboarding is often an afterthought, but it’s one of the most vital times in the member journey. If you get it right, you create lifelong ambassadors for your organization. If you get it wrong, you end up with a revolving door of membership.

Since this is such an important topic, we gathered our top ten tips for onboarding new members to help get the wheels turning on a great onboarding strategy!


1. Onboarding Series

Associations often have a wealth of resources for members and many members can feel overwhelmed by all that is available to them. However, a simple onboarding series of videos and emails can help walk someone through the information in digestible chunks of content. You don’t have to overwhelm someone with everything all at once. Instead, let them know the total number of sections and share one section at a time. At a minimum, make sure there is a clear welcome email to any new member. 

Bonus: You can tailor the messaging your members get based on specific factors like the type of membership, location, role, and more!

2. New Member Hub

Is there a specific spot where new members can go to get information? Keep it easy on your members to get the information they need and they’ll have a great experience. Other associations have a custom member dashboard where there are quick links and frequently asked questions listed. You can incorporate resources, member benefits, groups and committee resources, and events as well.

3. Personalize the Welcome

Video messages from leadership can be memorable for new members. There are simple tools like Loom, Bonjoro, BombBomb, and more that allow you to record a video message and send the links via the cloud, saving you the hassle of dealing with clunky video files to download and upload. Level this up a little bit more by taking a hand-held whiteboard and writing the person’s name on it for the opening screen of your video. This shows that the video was made specifically for them!

4. Go Old School

Tech is great, but sometimes the more traditional approaches go a long way. Consider a handwritten note from a leader in the association, or a fellow board member, to welcome a new member. Pick up the phone and call to thank them for joining, welcome them on, and see if there are any specific questions you can help answer for them. You could even dropship a welcome gift to each new member in the mail. The personal touch is powerful, especially when it comes in an unexpected manner!

5. In Real Life: New Member Events

People love engaging with other people, that’s why real-time events are so powerful. For associations, these can be powerful as the cohort of new members often bond over their shared, new experiences. All new members start on the same playing field and it’s a smaller group compared to your overall association numbers. Therefore, new member events can have an intimacy your larger events simply can’t compete with. Maximize off of this intimacy and build loyalty with these new members with specific events just for them!

6. Shoutout!

Give your new members a quick shoutout on social media, or even your member dashboard. Do this anywhere and everywhere you can, including in your private groups! People engage with social media posts they are tagged in, so this is a simple way to engage the new members, put the spotlight on them, and also make your association’s social media posts go much further! The added benefit is that it shows the world, and prospective members, that your association is growing and is worth joining.

7. Read All About It

Got new members? That’s newsworthy content you can chat about online! Each new cohort of new members can have a feature in a new blog post or shoutout on your member dashboard talking about that quarter’s, or that month’s, new membership. Link over to the new members’ websites or LinkedIn profiles.

Bonus: By making this type of blog post, you also have a great post for search engine optimization for your own website. Linking to other reputable sites in your industry elevates your own website in the eyes of search engines! Give some love to your new members, and get some love in the form of search engine rankings.

8. Connect & Mentor

We don’t just want to attract new members, we want to RETAIN long-term members for multiple years. One of the best ways to do this is by connecting all new members with a veteran member of your association. Mentors can help new members find ways to connect, answer questions, and feel like they are part of the group.

9. Safe Space

Forums and Facebook/LinkedIn Groups can be great places for new and veteran members to ask questions. They can be really great when someone is new to the association and wants to get the scoop. Consider creating a space like this and take steps to make sure it is a safe space to answer questions without ridicule. You can control the tone and culture of your online space by assigning moderators and setting basic group rules.

10. Stay in Front of Your Members

Even your seasoned members could use some refreshers on the basics. Don’t stop nurturing your membership with some of the basic information. New members get the benefit, but also feel like this is just part of the regular member experience; seasoned members get reminders on the basics they may have forgotten. Whether it’s in emails, verbal announcements, social media posts, or a combination of the above, stay in front of your members with reminders to keep the onboarding a normal part of your culture. 

As a growing organization, it’s vital to have a process for not just acquiring new members, but getting them onboarded to the group. You have a short window to make a great onboarding experience, and if you do it well, you’ll retain members long into the future!