Posted on May 04, 2023

Within any organization, it is vital to connect your members and there’s no simpler way than with a member directory. At first glance, a member directory feels fairly straightforward to communicate member information. However, when you approach this tool more strategically, you quickly find there are multiple factors to consider and incorporate into your membership directory. A member directory is more than just connecting members. It also can be used as a member value tool to provide members with a resource to promote their services.

Smart Directory

First off, the best kind of membership directory is one that is smart and evolving with your organization. By building your membership directory within the framework of an AMS by tapping directly into your live membership data, you open up a world of possibilities to make any membership directories streamlined and efficient for you. Ultimately, by building upon a solid foundation, you can leverage data insights and further customization in the future.

Public Directory

Public facing directories are often considered as a great value add for members. Public directories are available to anyone visiting your website and allow members to promote their business, services, etc. Companies or individuals may choose to join your organization and see a public directory as a great asset to help get more exposure for their brand. Listings on other industry-relevant sites are helpful for search engine (SEO) rankings, as well as general PR for a brand. It can be a great selling feature if your organization chooses to set up a public-facing directory.

Internal Member Directory

On the flip side, many organizations choose to have an internal member directory that is available only to paying members. Member-only directories are great because they build a sense of inclusion within your organization. By being in your organization, they gain exclusive access to this more exclusive information for key players in their industry and desired network. Members can pull even more data from your AMS database to expose in the private directory, such as biographies, areas of expertise, or focus. Therefore, it’s a great selling feature for helping your members build up their own network.

How do you know which is right for you?

Keep in mind that both public and internal member directories are helpful, but they offer slightly different selling points based on your members’ goals. If your organization attracts a lot of high-quality industry leaders, you can attract other quality leaders by promoting your internal ecosystem within your member directory. However, if your organization attracts a lot of the general public, or the ideal customers of your members, it can actually be more appealing to promote the public directory to help your members get more exposure. You need to know your goals and what your members want first, and then you can design the member directory that fits those needs.

The Best of Both Worlds:

The reality is your organization may choose to have both a public-facing directory and an internal directory. With the help of a great database, filtering, and features of an AMS solution, you can build out member directories that display specific information on each, as well as provide features where members can opt-in and manage their own preferences. You can choose to limit the amount of information on a public-facing directory while making more information or direct access to members for your internal directory. This helps members get even more benefits from your organization.

Ultimately, when you understand the goals of your members, and the audience who is scoping out your organization with web traffic, ads, live events, and more, you will be able to discern which style of member directory is right for your organization. The foundation for a great member directory comes from having a great association management system like Membernova. From there, you can craft and design your user experience for both members AND the public with great member directories. While member directories seem so simple, they actually can be a very strategic tool to help your organization grow!