Can Collaboration Solve Your Member Challenges?

November 24, 2017 Samantha Green

When the volume of work to be done gets overwhelming, it can be extremely difficult to take time to focus on the big picture, and even more difficult to look outside of your organization for inspiration and examples. The pressures of running a society can make the times when we stop, share, and “think big” all the more impactful. Together, we can come up with new ideas and solutions that we could not discover on our own.

To support those types of discussions, last week in Chicago we held the inaugural Wiley Society Workshop, where we gathered a small group of society leaders. The theme of the day’s brainstorm was how to serve the needs of the evolving society member, and throughout the workshop we shared experiences, ideas, and examples from our different communities.

Although members may have diverse priorities and desires, they all need societies to support them professionally and to help them feel that they are changing the world in a positive way.

With that in mind, we came up with dozens of innovative ideas for serving the members of the future. Here’s a snapshot:

November Headline Image.jpg

Engaging the next generation of members:

  • Raffle for free membership for early career members
  • Create a membership “badge” for members to display on their social media accounts
  • Offer writing workshops both virtually and at the annual meeting
  • Target membership marketing to graduate programs
  • Offer more volunteer opportunities for early career members
  • Create a junior publishing committee to encourage engagement with the journal
  • Build mentoring and networking opportunities for peer-to-peer engagement
  • Explore collaborative-style programming at conferences
  • Make sure content is mobile friendly
  • Develop member-led content platforms like blogs and new social media channels

Creating community via content:

  • Offer members-only supplemental materials
  • Market membership to current authors, inviting them to join your society
  • Ask your members what current/trending topics they are most interested in and consider these when determining publication strategy
  • Create opportunities for members to share their work and discuss new findings
  • Develop ways for your members to create additional types of content
  • Make opportunities for comments, sharing, and participation with content
  • Find your current and future thought leaders and help them develop their content
  • Build self-selecting communities around shared interests and subtopics
  • Consider conference events that are more discussion-based than presentation
  • Expand your definition of content to include more informal publications

Building a global community:

  • Localize content, both in terms of language and relevant topics
  • Create networks of local society ambassadors to help build community in new regions
  • Consider regionalized leaders for some of your larger committees
  • Offer travel grants and scholarships for students outside of the U.S. or Europe
  • Make sure conferences and events have virtual components or host similar local events around the world
  • Develop online forums for sharing and discussing research that include English language support
  • Create virtual discussion groups for sub-specialties and other member segments
  • Consider travel restrictions when selecting your conference locations
  • Develop tiered member rates based on local currency and economy
  • Affiliate with local societies in your growth regions

Supporting professional development and networking:

  • Support career transitions at all stages of development
  • Raise awareness for alternative career paths and how membership can support those
  • Consider fellowship programs for community building and creating an earned professional designation
  • Help members cover membership costs between jobs so they can still take advantage of professional development when they need it most
  • Explore gamification and badge certifications for members to solve real-world problems and demonstrate their skills
  • Develop mentoring groups with specific goals and strategies
  • Create casual networking events like drinks meet-ups
  • Partner with local networks and places of work to create strategy
  • Sponsor an “Ask an expert” session or Reddit AMA (ask me anything) about professional development
  • Offer continuing education credits for peer review

Reaching communities outside of academia:

  • Create bite-sized research overviews for practitioners who don’t engage with research in the same way
  • Brainstorm who your potential members are by asking “who else are we for?”
  • Develop ways that members in different professional settings can share and ask questions
  • Make applied, practice-based guides based on research
  • Create special interest groups that focus on practice
  • Consider networking and other events at conferences for members outside academia
  • Design membership campaigns around the release of new guidelines or practice impacts
  • Offer live or virtual courses in practice management, leadership, or other relevant professional skills
  • Consider tiered membership structures based on the needs of practitioners
  • Survey your practitioner audience to learn more about what they value and need

We hope that some of these ideas spark ideas of your own! Share in the comments below.

Image Credit: Yuri Arcurs

About the Author

Samantha Green

Society Marketing, Wiley // Samantha Green joined Wiley in 2012, working in the Social Science and Humanities Community Marketing team at Wiley. She now works in the Society Strategy & Marketing creating content on publishing trends and the research community.

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