By Erin Vanderstelt, CAE, DES
The Trillium Network Council PDX Committee hosts a monthly virtual café to foster engagement and promote wellness through positivity.
Associations are built on the connections that they create, and the knowledge and support shared within those boundaries. Feel Good Fridays are an opportunity to develop these connections – something that’s needed more than ever as we find ourselves in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to take part in one of these sessions and delve into the wealth of membership knowledge available through my fellow members and colleagues. On Friday, May 7th, Gerald Bramm of Bramm Research (the perfect person for the role!) hosted a session on Member Value Propositions. He invited us to explore what elements our member value proposition has been composed of, how and if those elements have changed during the upheaval that we all know as COVID, and how the virtual delivery of these elements have impacted member engagement. With a wide range of associations represented, both in type and in focus, it was encouraging to find common ground among us.
The pandemic meant, for a number of us, a push forward into work that had previously been sitting on the side of our desks, initiatives discussed and rehashed, and plans that always had the tint of “a future time”. We couldn’t wait to move on making events more accessible with digital options for remote and young professionals, we couldn’t wait on taking the leap to virtual for resources and supports that had always been provided in hard copy/in-person. Faced with now or never, we moved quickly and, aside from some bumps in the road, overall members found their associations on better ground than they were before the pandemic.
Trade associations found that with the move to virtual, their members were no longer faced with having to pick and choose who they could afford to send to events. With their event budget line no longer having to accommodate the costs of travel and accommodations, additional registrations could be extended to those with less seniority. For the first time, many young professionals were able to attend their association’s events alongside their more experienced colleagues. In creating connections with the up-and-comers as well as the senior Executives currently at the helm, trade associations build loyalty within their member organizations’ ranks to secure their relationship for the future.
Virtual access means greater accessibility, allowing professionals the ability to choose to attend regardless of where they are, and access content they couldn’t previously. The shift to virtual events also means an increase in options for content as well – where an event had previously been rolled out in different locations across the province/country, the new virtual means everyone is able to attend regardless of location, and there is now room to hold more topics within these previously dedicated spots.
Overall, it seems that the membership value proposition may look different, but often this is simply that it’s become more accessible and offers greater opportunities for engagement. The offerings remain much the same, but the ability to deliver and meet members “where they are”, both physically and at their specific stages in their careers, has greatly expanded. This has sparked excitement where there may have previously been hesitation in adapting new formats, looking at new delivery systems, and questioning traditions in our respective organizations.
The future may be uncertain, but it also is bright.
Erin Vanderstelt, CAE, DES