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Monday, October 26, 2009

Can traditional networking compete with Social Networks? Recruiting Members in the Facebook Age

Being a member of a business association or volunteering for a charity used to be the ultimate ways to network -- that is, until LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter came along! How can your membership-driven organization survive and even thrive within a landscape of always-on social networking? These are questions I know that trade association executives are facing these days particularly as they attempt to reach out and recruit Generation Y into the leadership of their board and into their staff. Added to this challenge is that for many associations, the perceived value their members receive from their annual dues comes from the opportunity to connect with colleagues, broaden their knowledge of the field and possibly network to build their business. However, in a downturned economy, chances are that members will be looking to other means outside of association events to make these connections.

The key to "bums in seats" at association networking events relates to engaging your members and supporters. To compete and ensure they remain engaged, you must make sure that you provide value to your members and donors and if you’re already providing value, you must make sure you communicate that value. Members, and especially Gen Yers are very savvy "consumers", electronically connected, and they are looking for value.

Communicating that value will require non-profits to undertake a paradigm shift. In an internet age where your potential market for support is bombarded for appeals for help from thousands of causes, non-profits need move away from mass appeals and work towards narrow casting their message. In other words, addressing messages that directly appeal to the individual.

If you are looking to learn more on this subject, I fully encourage you to register for our November 4th webinar on how non-profits can use social media to build rewarding networking opportunities for their members and supporters.
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Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service strategic communications, public relations and public affairs consultancy for non-profits and associations. Find him on Twitter at @markbuzan.

1 comment:

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