May 13, 2017

First impressions matter

experience optimismOnce a month, I share a membership retention and recruitment tip on the PNW District - Optimist International Facebook page.

Most, if not all, deal with communication. Over the years, I've discovered that many Optimist Clubs fail to keep their members informed, possibly because their projects and culture are so ingrained, the person leading project thinks that everyone already knows.

This is especially hurtful when new members join the club. Without direction, they feel left out. Perhaps unintentionally, they feel left out of the clique simply because they don't know where to go, what to do, or why.

The same can often be said for attending a regular meeting. If there is no greeter, people always sit in the same place, and inside jokes are being told, new members wonder what is happening and question if they've made the right decision to become a part of the group.

I  have always believed that the best way to attract a new member to an Optimist Club is to show them that its worth the effort to join; and that ten or more years from now, their service and friendship will be valued. That all starts with the first impression.

It doesn't take a big orientation process, but rather, I suggest that an Optimist Club should orchestrate a series of good first impressions. Send a welcome email with links that explain the club's projects, committees, and leadership structure. Highlight the core purposes of Optimist International and explain how the club practices those values. Include a calendar of events, membership directory, and suggestions for who to call to get involved. Remind the new member's sponsor to sit with the new recruit and and introduce her to others. Make a point to be open and inclusive with new members and veteran members and they will feel, and continue to feel, engaged, valued, and committed to the cause.

First impressions can make a difference in a lifetime of service.

Membership retention and recruitment tip #45: First impressions can make a difference. When someone joins your Optimist Club, they seek first impressions that validate their choice to join. From the first email, meeting or website visit, they need to feel welcome and valued. Orchestrate those first impressions and you will be on your way to engaging members for a lifetime.


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