Most people would agree that any organization is only as strong as its weakest link. And in a time when leaders are urged to adopt transparency and embrace soft skills like communication and empathy, those things are key to member engagement for the chamber as well. Effective communication is an expectation, not a nice to have these days. In a study conducted by Hart Research Associates , “93% of employers consider communication skills more important than a graduate’s major.”
What does that have to do with the chamber?
What is expected of your business members from a professional standpoint has been transferred onto you and your leadership skills as well. If business leaders are being told communication is essential to good business practices, they will expect the same from the chamber. If you want to drive member engagement and keep them involved, you must make effective communication a priority even with everything else you’re doing.
Communication and Member Engagement
Clear and consistent communication not only helps foster a sense of belonging and connection but also ensures that members stay informed, motivated, and actively participate in the community. One of the most common complaints chambers hear when they ask a member why they weren’t at the latest event is “I didn’t know about it.” But good communication goes beyond letting members know about upcoming events. Strong communication drives member engagement with the right practical strategies and tools.
The Importance of Clear and Consistent Communication with Chamber Members
Clear and consistent communication is the foundation of a thriving community. When members receive timely and relevant information, they feel valued, respected, and engaged.
Here are some key reasons why communication is essential for member engagement:
Building Trust and Relationships
Effective communication builds trust among members and strengthens relationships. It establishes transparency, which is crucial for fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty within the community. This directly impacts retention.
Sharing Information and Updates
Regular communication ensures that members stay up to date with the latest news, events, initiatives, and any changes within the organization. This empowers them to actively participate and contribute. Consistency is also key to meeting expectations. Regular communications (those things that go out on a predictable basis) should be scheduled so that members know when to expect them, giving them something to look forward to.
Providing Support and Guidance
Communication channels enable chambers to offer support, guidance, and assistance to members. Promptly addressing queries or concerns helps members feel supported, leading to increased engagement and satisfaction.
While there’s little point in arguing that communication is a good way to make people feel valued, whether that’s in your personal or professional life, it does take time. However, you can leverage tools to make connections easier and more efficient.
One Thing You Need to Know About Communication for Member Engagement
The most effective type of communication when it comes to member engagement is conveying the information they find value in, whatever it is that helps them meet their business goals. For instance, if your members couldn’t care less about events, keeping them “in the loop” on every event won’t leave an impression. On the other hand, if their goal for chamber membership is gaining more customers, communicating the return on their networking investment and how many leads they derived from a referral group, can be huge. That type of communication will cause them to open every email.
Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Since there are only so many hours in the day and communication with members takes time, it’s important to focus on the type of communication that means the most to your members. To figure that out, you need to be aware of their goals behind chamber membership. By learning this about your members, you’ll understand the type of information they find most valuable.
While we won’t go over every possible goal a member could have for chamber membership, we’ll focus on one of the most common—more customers/revenue.
Networking and Referral Tracking Software and ROI
Implementing networking and referral software can provide your members with instant access to view referral business and analytics. They can also see what other members are receiving and gauge their own efforts accordingly.
Here's how this type of tracking software can benefit your communication strategies. By using it you can:
- Track revenues generated from referrals—while your members can see these for themselves, you can also use these stats as part of marketing efforts further communicating the value behind your networking or referral groups.
- Collect recurring membership dues from members—no more confusion or second-guessing on when referral group dues are to be collected (if you charge separately for this).
- Generate various reports to measure your group's performance—communicating this can build interest and make participants feel proud of the help they are giving one another.
- Build accountability and promote transparency—everyone has access to view the types of referrals occurring and who they’re coming from.
Effective communication is vital for driving member engagement, but it takes time. By focusing your communication on the areas your members are most interested in, you can get their attention and maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. With consistent communication strategies, you can create a thriving community where members feel valued, engaged, and connected. Remember, communication is a two-way street, so actively listening and responding to your members is as essential as communicating outwards.