Tim Ebner is former senior editor of Associations Now in Washington, DC.
If you want to keep and retain students as long-term members, start by listening and engaging early into the membership experience.
On the job at the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, Membership Manager Jolynne Flores learned quickly to pay close attention to the needs of new student members.
More than a quarter of NAMA’s members are students, and their numbers are growing. “What I’m hearing from students right now is that they need a quality and trusted source,” says Flores. “They come for quality information and networking because Ayurveda is a relatively new profession in the United States, less than 30 years old for a practice that is over 5,000 years old in India.”
Flores uses a multi-prong strategy to engage student members early and keep them involved:
1. Slow and steady emails. In the first year, new student members receive one onboarding email per month to introduce them to NAMA benefits. “We don’t want them to get slammed or overwhelmed at the beginning with all the information that’s out there,” Flores says. She also avoids academic busy periods, like midterms and finals.
2. Welcome phone call. NAMA’s student subcommittee pitches in to welcome young members by making one-on-one calls. “There’s nothing more valuable than peer-to-peer communications,” Flores says. These are quick check-ins, where new members can ask questions or offer ideas and feedback.
3. Student FAQ page. Flores also designs student-centric experiences online. Working with her student subcommittee, she created new web pages, including a set of prospective student member FAQs that feature answers to common questions about membership and the Ayurveda profession.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled “Student Onboarding 101."]