Keep your membership happy with great development events

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Written by Jake Fabbri on 24 June 2021 in Features
Features

Jake Fabbri offers ideas for developing compelling training events for your business.

One of the main reasons that members join associations is to advance their skills in their current field, learn about the latest innovations, and network with other professionals. In particular, many members are attracted to the specific training events, official accreditations, and other learning opportunities that associations offer.

However, the past year put a temporary pause on in-person training and slowed other continuing education, as many had to pivot to working fully remotely. Associations across the board scrambled to figure out the best ways to boost member engagement and retention during this volatile time. This is when virtual events and online training started playing a significant role! 

Virtual events also proved to be quite convenient, especially for members who couldn’t attend certain events because they don’t live nearby or have the means to travel. They can actually increase the number of participants and incentivise new members to join. And with hybrid events, you have the best of both worlds!

Now that we’re looking to the future and in-person events are slowly rolling out again, association leaders need to figure out the best ways to develop compelling training events using both face-to-face and virtual methods. After all, it seems like virtual and hybrid events are here to stay

Think about your organisation’s unique needs and goals to determine the data that you’d like to collect

Using the lessons from 2020 and looking ahead, there are three questions on member engagement and how to improve your association’s training: 

  1. What are the courses your members are genuinely interested in? 
  2. How can you create online and other hybrid learning opportunities?
  3. How can you encourage a collaborative and engaging online learning environment?

Don’t let your association’s training events and learning opportunities fall to the wayside. In fact, they can even be a key recruitment tool for new members. 

What are the courses your members are genuinely interested in? 

If you want to create compelling training events for your association members, you must offer content that they’re genuinely interested in. After all, it’s going to be much harder to incentivise members to sign up if the course brings them no value or isn’t relevant to their profession or industry.

To figure out what your members are looking for in training content, you need to do more than good guesswork. You need concrete data. You can gather various data points from your members, from their personal details to their cultural backgrounds, job titles, and goals in the industry. 

 

To analyse this information and gather insights, you need a reliable platform to collect and store this data. This is where effective association management systems (AMS) come into play. 

Whenever members join your association, they’ll likely fill out an application form. The data within these forms and from other engagements should live in your AMS and its constituent relationship management (CRM) system as a resource of information that you can always refer to in the future. Here are a few ideas for important data points to collect: 

  • Name, background, contact information
  • Job, industry, field
  • Length of membership time
  • Special position in an association, like a VIP or board member
  • Personal goals for each member
  • Communication preferences.

This list isn’t exhaustive – think about your organisation’s unique needs and goals to determine the data that you’d like to collect. 

Remember, your AMS and CRM is the centralised location for all of your member and engagement data. Your CRM is also the place where you can take that member and engagement data, track trends, and analyse it. 

 

For instance, you can get a sense of any commonalities in your member data, like whether a lot of people are looking for a specific official accreditation or any preferences in training that they indicated. Or, if your association has members speaking different languages, consider translating your elearning training accordingly.

Further, the more training events and learning experiences that you offer, the more valuable data you can gather, like: 

  • Past training events and learning content
  • Registration rates for each course
  • Engagement KPIs (like questions asked or interactions between members) 
  • Duration of each session
  • Which training events had the most completions
  • Survey/feedback results.

You can then use this data to shape any future content and training events you host. This way, you know which outreach strategy was most successful and which courses were most popular. 

How can you create online and other hybrid learning opportunities?

Virtual events have proven to be quite convenient, especially for members who can’t attend certain occasions because they don’t live nearby or have the means to travel. Virtual activities can actually increase the number of participants you have in your online training and incentivise new members to join. With hybrid events, you have the best of both worlds!

But what’s the best way to host virtual or hybrid engagements? Using the experience from the past year, here are some of the common options: 

  • Manually create online training opportunities using online videos, livestreaming, and other tools
  • Invest in a learning management system 
  • Partner with a custom e-learning development company.

The method you choose will depend on your association’s budget and the type of training you want to create. However, if you want to incorporate online learning into the future of your association, using an LMS or e-learning company is probably your best bet. 

How can you encourage a collaborative and engaging online learning environment?

It’s clear that virtual elements in training events are here to stay and can add an extra compelling component to your association’s learning environment. 

Nevertheless, it can be challenging to imitate the real-time engagement of an actual in-person event. After all, one of the main reasons that members attend training events is to also meet like-minded people and network.

If you want to promote a collaborative and engaging online learning environment, here are our tips:

  • Provided a dedicated space for members to engage with each other before and after the event
  • Allow members to ask questions during the event within a video conferencing or livestreaming platform
  • Facilitate a chat functionality so that members can talk to each other during the training event
  • Incorporate quizzes and check-ins within the training content.

It’s no secret that it’s hard to capture someone’s attention when there’s a screen in the way. Even so, you can still use digital elements and tools to curate an engaging training experience for your members. Follow the tips above to set your association up for success now and into the future. 

Wrapping up

Developing training events is a crucial role of association leaders. So how can you ensure that your learning opportunities are compelling and engaging in this modern space? Find courses that members genuinely want to take and use virtual elements to enhance that experience and open it to an even broader online audience. Good luck!

 

About the author

Jake Fabbri is chief marketing officer at Fonteva

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