Businesses often join member organisations of all kinds, from chambers of commerce to networking clubs. But is it always worth it? When renewal time appears ‘is the membership value worth it?’ is a question I often get asked.
Usually promoted by one enthusiastic individual or to make a valued client or referrer happy at one stage or other, sometimes months or even years later the fateful question, “Is that membership worth renewing?” is raised. More often than not, silence falls. Everyone looks at the floor. No one knows how to justify renewing or not.
And it maybe doesn’t seem that important in the grand scheme of things. So the point is skirted over, the meeting agenda moves on and before you know it thousands of pounds a year are committed to various memberships without anyone actually knowing why. So what can you do?
Tip 1: Know why
The first objective is to agree a strategy and rationale around why your firm joins anything.
This could include:
- Relationship development with referrers
- To spend quality time with clients
- CDP / business education for your team
- Training team members on networking skills or business knowledge
- Meeting new referrers
- Building your database of contacts / support of marketing activity
Your reasons may include a variety of the points above. People often overlook discussing such aspects with HR, but training needs identified in the most recent appraisals could be addressed through membership of industry bodies or networking organisations. Some of these can provide valuable CDP and training opportunities for your team.
Has this made you think? Applying any of the above to existing membership networks can help you actively benefit from those subscriptions.
Tip 2: Record
You need to record activity and findings to ensure you can gauge if time is well spent, or not, in addition to the membership fees.
- For example if membership is for relationship development, know how many clients or referrers are fellow members and keep track of how often you see them at these specific events. This can save time on ‘extra coffees’ between network meetings, as well as highlighting those individuals who you haven’t seen for a long time and really should.
- If your firm has joined for CDP and education purposes, record who attended, how often and the education topics in a CPD log.
- If it’s for training others, again record this, ie: how many people from which business did you train?
- If it’s to spend time with clients, record this on your database.
- If it’s to meet new referrers or clients, record this on your database to know how many and how often.
- If it’s to build a database of contacts, monitor how much this is growing monthly.
Once you have a recording process in place, you need to review the data. There is a lot of chat in business about Big Data – but your own ‘small data’ can be invaluable to you.
Tip 3; Review your data
- New contacts and lead time to referral and or new business
- Referred business by volume and value
- More business from existing clients
- CPD objectives achieved
These are some of the most valuable indicators you should review every month. When mapped against membership network, over time, you will then begin to see benchmarks, ie: what’s the average and which memberships are delivering more for your business than others. When you then consider costs and time spent (which includes travel) you will have a clear picture on what’s worth the investment.
For example, just because a lunch event each month is a five minute drive from your office – it doesn’t mean that this is better value than a three hour round trip once every two months, if that’s the network that is bringing in volume and value of business.
Tip 4: Don’t miss a trick
Join the party, engage online. An effective digital strategy for business development should encompass engagement online with key contacts including membership organisations. This enables relationships to be developed and others who miss events the opportunity to still learn about your involvement online.
- Blog about the event
- Inform your social media coordinator of the membership
- Share your blog across all social media channels
- Engage with the organisation and tag / mention them as you go
Remember that talking about, say, the training you delivered, also demonstrates your credentials. People ‘Google’ when looking for an expert. And don’t forget to ensure that you have feedback from your social media coordinators – analyse which networks are active online, which topics got the highest levels of engagement. This information can also help you see where the most value lies, as well as identifying ‘hot topics’ for the membership network. You can then propose an event at which you address a hot topic for members. Relevance develops relationships.
Tip 5: Be hospitable
Welcome new members. Another effective way is to pay attention to new members. Drop them a welcome note upon joining and invite them for a coffee or to meet you prior to the next network event so that they don’t have to arrive alone. Ask why they joined and aim to make relevant introductions between fellow members that will be of value to them.
- People remember people
- People buy people
- People do business with people
Be human, be thoughtful and make referrals, give a warm welcome and support the networking activity between fellow members.
So, get ROI (return on investment, of both time and money) on your business development meeting agendas, set up processes to log your own ‘small data’ and start measuring the results. Then this time next year when that membership questions is raised . . . you will have an informed answer!
If you would like to learn more, please do get in touch. If you found this post helpful, maybe others will too; It’s good to share!