Simplest Example

Simplest Example

the essence of the thing

Growing and Retaining User Group Membership

The North Central Region of PASS had a community meeting on March 26th to discuss the topic of growing and retaining user group members.  We discussed these as separate topics, but found that many items were equally appropriate to efforts in growing or retaining members.  Here’s the items that we came up with in the meeting (in no particular order):

  1. Create a web site and keep it updated with current meeting information including interesting topics, dates, times and location.
  2. Post flyers, messages, or handbills wherever qualified computer users are in your area. For example, have your current members post flyers at their offices.
  3. Secure dedicated leadership and delegate tasks to do help you do small things to build membership. Don’t forget to follow up!
  4. Archive everything the chapter or group does for your Web site.
  5. Solicit “door prizes” to give away at meetings and tell people about it to encourage attendance.
  6. Publicize your meetings through PASS channels (”Chapter Events” in the Chapter Dashboard) and in local computer publications and newspapers.
  7. Explore other local advertising channels like advertising on a public access channel or publishing your event on a local calendar of technical events.
  8. When using Eventbrite or Meetup, make sure that you list your event is listed as public so people can find your event that might not know about your group.
  9. Technicalcommunity.com – Microsoft’s site to publicize events (and other services such as swag or eBook offers). Events added using this will appear on the MSDN site.
  10. Contact local companies, recruiters, training orgs, and schools to tell them about your group & meetings and ask them to tell people about it. Prepare something that they can share without having to rewrite it.
  11. Existing members may be able to help recruit people to attend your meetings.
  12. Use LinkedIn or other social media to search for companies and contacts that may be interested in attending your group.
  13. Have relevant topics with quality speakers. Balance this with your need to grow new speakers.
  14. Provide ways for members and others to give feedback about the direction, goals, and strategies of the chapter or group.
  15. Create a new user or mentor program to make the new members feel welcome and involved.
  16. Construct a membership kit containing general contact information, Web site, steering committee/board contacts, etc.
  17. Engage members with surveys or meeting/speaker evaluation forms to understand their needs and concerns to learn how to serve them better. Adjust future meeting content based on the results from the surveys, or find out who might be interested in speaking.
  18. Get input from members to determine what day of the week and time are best for your members.
  19. Have meetings in a consistent location and regular predictable date and time.
  20. Have the agenda for meetings that is similar from meeting to meeting.
  21. Have working equipment in your meetings.
  22. Name tags will help members connect with each other, and people are more likely to attend a meeting that they know their friends will be at.
  23. Send reminders about your meeting a few days before it occurs (not weeks before, and not the day of).
  24. Create SIGs (special interest groups) within the users group to allow people to find people that are interested in the areas of SQL Server that they’re interested in.
  25. Have relevant topics with quality speakers. Balance this with your need to grow new speakers.
  26. Ensure that the leadership of the organization does not only come from one company.
  27. Keep your mailing list private and don’t share it with sponsors. Send messages on behalf of your sponsors sparingly. If desired, provide a way to allow people to “opt in”.
  28. Make sure you get contact information from your attendees. If you don’t know who is attending, you won’t be able to encourage them to attend again. Email your attendees via “Email Chapter” in the Chapter Dashboard, or using other tools like MailChimp or Eventbrite.
  29. If you’re going to serve food, make sure it’s of a quality that reflects how you want your group to be represented.
  30. Plan networking opportunities during your meeting time. Another option could be organizing an after-event at a local restaurant or bar.
  31. Organize a way for members to participate together to volunteer doing something community-focused in a way that allows the members to “do good” in the name of your user group and to do that activity together.

Resources used from the SQLPASS website:

Do you have other ideas to share? Add your comments here!

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