After a year of disruptions, seeing a gradual return to normal offers a welcome sense of relief. But it does pose a question: How can associations create more value for members during this period of transition and beyond?
The challenges of the past year have given us all new perspectives. We’re much more aware of the importance of staying connected, whether it’s via now-routine online meetings or in person. And the need to prepare professionally for whatever the future might bring is more apparent than ever.
To provide greater value for members, associations have an opportunity to recognize and respond to shifts in expectations and viewpoints. Some specific examples include:
- Hosting hybrid events and meetings. Even as in-person events return, the convenience of attending events and meetings online is something people will continue to want. Associations that offer hybrid events with in-person and online attendance options will accommodate members’ specific budgets, schedules and health concerns.
- Investing in training and certification programs. Training and certification rank consistently among the most important benefits to members. Now is a good time for associations to review their programs and find ways to offer training and certification opportunities beyond an annual event. For example, offering year-round learning opportunities, such as in-person, live-streamed, and on-demand educational sessions can accommodate members’ schedules, learning preferences, and educational and certification needs as they return to office environments.
- Expanding career advancement resources. While many associations already connect members with job opportunities through online job boards, there’s an opportunity to provide even more value in this area. Providing career advancement resources, such as interview and resume writing tips, salary data, and outlooks for job growth can deliver greater value for members—especially as they make career decisions in a fluctuating economy.
- Making ongoing networking easier. As associations begin to plan in-person networking events again, they also have the opportunity to capitalize on members’ new comfort levels with online interactions. For example, offering an online member community can provide networking benefits between in-person events.
As we step back into a familiar world, our industry has an opportunity to do more than just return to normal. By embracing the new perspectives we’ve all gained over the last year, associations can provide members greater value than ever before.
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