5 Tips for Keeping Members Sane During a Pandemic
Updated: Apr. 6, 2020 | Categories: Membership
Your chapter and your members are being asked to operate in ways that are significantly different from anything they’ve done before. Software and phones are replacing face-to-face interactions, which is great for all they allow us to do. But for many, it’s a difficult shift. We’re used to connecting with people right in front of us. We shake hands, we hug, and we’re just physically close. Now most everything is accomplished via a screen, a keyboard, or a phone.
There’s a good chance the social distance we’re being forced to keep is affecting your members in ways you may not have thought of. In an earlier post, we discussed how virtual events let you continue to operate and keep your members connected, and we thought it would be good to share ideas for helping your members keep a little more of their sanity during this time.
Many of your members are going to be personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Some may become sick or know someone who is, while some may find themselves furloughed, working reduced hours, and taking on tasks outside of their normal responsibilities. Spending large periods of time by themselves or at home with their family, they may not be sleeping well, not getting their usual exercise, eating poorly, and worrying much more than they typically do.
Here are a few changes you can make, to help members decrease their stress, stay a little calmer and more focused, and spend less during this time.
Offer remote career programming and networking. Use your chapter forum and your social media platforms to connect members with others who may be in the same situation and/or who may have expertise to share. Give them the place they need more than ever to talk about job opportunities and resume reviews, while networking, laughing, and just connect.
Lower the fees for your virtual events. Once your meetings, speaker series, and educational events move online, your overhead decreases, since you won’t be paying for food, space rentals, etc. Pass those savings on to your members. Lower the cost to attend your meetings, and you may find more members and guests attending, since they no longer have to drive to get there.
Change how you market and your events. In “normal” times, members would probably take off from work to attend your event. Promote your virtual events as ones where they should still take the time off and focus on themselves, even if just for a short time. Give away swag at meetings? Mail a promo box of your typical promotional products to each person that registers and attends your virtual event (maybe your sponsors can help).
Repurpose content you’ve shared previously. Turn your blog posts and training materials into emails to share with members and prospects. Create a free eBook with tips that would resonate with members during this time.
Increase the amount of educational material you offer online. Ask members what they want to learn and find ways to create it and get it online. Perhaps members who finds themselves with some extra time would create a course to help other members improve their industry knowledge or develop a How To tutorial on a specific topic.
Keep in mind…
- Many of your members are overwhelmed by all they’re being asked to do online. There’s a good chance they’re not all as tech-savvy as they need to be. Offer tutorials and aids, so they know what they’re doing before they try to access your online event or educational material. Give them what they need, so they can focus on the value of your content instead of figuring out how to access it.
- Find ways to decrease members’ screen time, even if it’s just by few minutes. Hold meetings with a call-in number instead of an online platform. Send educational materials by mail and ask your sponsors to send collateral via the post office.
- Whatever you do, don’t try to replicate your in-person material completely. In many cases, it won’t translate well. Instead, consider the options you have and make them work for your content, your chapter and your members.
When we’re finally able to gather in person again, our environment may still look different than before the pandemic. Who knows if we’ll ever shake hands again? The adjustments you make now will show your members and prospects you understand their needs and are able to pivot to meet those needs, regardless of the situation.