The Secret to Member Engagement: Part I

“The art of listening is the greatest communication tool of all time,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp. “If you learn to listen, the world will reveal itself to you.”

Donald’s first act as CEO was to go on a listening tour. He listened to Carnival guests, people who said they’d never go on a cruise, industry analysts, journalists who had written negative stories about the cruise industry, and a wide range of employees including janitors, administrative assistants, and cabin stewards.

He listened and learned how to exceed the expectations of Carnival’s guests. As a result, during his tenure as CEO, Carnival’s profits skyrocketed and its stock price doubled. Imagine what your association could learn and achieve if you started listening to members in a brand new way.

The importance of listening to members

The secret? Listening.

If you want your association to become indispensable to members, you need to understand what’s going on in their world.

  • What do members need to know?
  • What do they need to learn?
  • What problems do they need to solve?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What worries them?
  • What do they hope to achieve?

Assumptions based on conventional wisdom no longer work. In a time of rapid change like we’re experiencing today, conventional wisdom is dated information. Your members (and prospects) have moved on. They have new skills to learn, new threats to their businesses, and new career paths to pursue. You’ve got to find a way to keep up.

You also can’t make assumptions based only on the perspectives of your board and committee members, or your staff. Your volunteer leaders can only speak authentically for people like themselves, but not everyone else in your membership and audience—unless you’ve intentionally recruited a diverse selection of volunteer leaders. If you’re not listening to a wide range of perspectives, then you may not be staying in tune with the existing and emerging needs and interests of your members and prospects.

When an intentional effort to listen to members becomes part of your association’s culture and practices, members take note. They know you’re in tune and see that you’re focused on them.

People in relationships listen to each other. Demonstrate your commitment to your relationship with members by adopting one or more of these listening methods.

7 tactics for listening to members

This blog is part of a 3-blog series where we explore The Secret to Member Engagement and the importance of carefully listening to members so that you can act on their preferences, wants and needs, in real time. Tune in next week when we explore 7 effective tactics for listening to members.

Start listening to your members right now

If you are ready to begin amplifying engagement by listening carefully to your members and tuning your messaging in order to meet their needs, then sign up to get started today.

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Read Part II - 7 Ways to Effectively Listen

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