One indicator of a strong industry or professional association is the level of engagement – at the leadership, committee, and member levels. Conferences, training sessions, committee meetings, and social events are the most common way to bring members together. These get-togethers shape the future of the association in terms of identifying issues, constructing strategies for growth, and developing leaders.
Work-from-home and in-person meeting restrictions have changed the way association staff interact with each other and with members. As videoconferencing becomes a key method to connect people, everyone is looking for a way to keep staff and members engaged.
Although the work being performed by association staff and volunteer members may have pivoted to crisis response, keeping everyone focused and on track is critical. A few tips for effective virtual meetings are offered by Forbes magazine:
- Establish daily check-ins for staff members and key association leaders. At the same time each day – or each week for member volunteers in some cases – have everyone on the same call to hear updates. This is not a troubleshooting or brainstorming call – but it does give people a chance to ask for help or advice that can be arranged after the call.
- Don’t forget the social aspect of engagement that occurs prior to face-to-face meetings and start the call by asking people to take two minutes to say how they are doing or share short personal stories.
According to jobsite Virtual Vocations, social interactions are important to maintaining a team spirit. Recapture the “water cooler” aspect of office and in-person meetings by setting aside time for social-only interactions. Whether it is a virtual happy hour, photo, and cooking competitions (without the actual taste test!) or tours of an individual’s home office, a set time to interact on a purely social level helps recreate personal connections.