If you’re interested in growing your association – and increasing membership engagement – LinkedIn is a powerful tool that offers effective ways for you to not only highlight your association’s mission, but also help other professionals find information, establish relationships, and do business together. In the U.S. alone there are nearly 130 million LinkedIn users, many of whom may be ideal candidates for membership in your association.
One of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is a member’s ability to build thought leadership through great content and effective group management. Quality content works to attract like-minded people and creates an opportunity for them to come together as a community with shared goals. As your association’s visibility increases, potential members can research and learn more about what your association offers and then decide if it would be beneficial for them to join.
Strategies for Associations
For those in charge of membership, a Company Page, LinkedIn Groups, Showcase Pages, and InMail allow you to share information, help foster interactions between existing members, and attract new members. Following are some best practice strategies for using LinkedIn to accomplish these items.
LinkedIn Company Page
A LinkedIn Company Page allows you to educate the public about your mission, products and services. Attracting and engaging stakeholders in a familiar, professional environment can be key elements for driving membership. You can also amplify your message by using sponsored updates to get in front of an expanded number of people and reach the right audience. This year, we helped one of our clients, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board, establish a new presence on LinkedIn. Sharing of information and building relationships among community managers has allowed them to quickly gain a following that continues to grow every day.
Want to encourage robust member engagement? A closed LinkedIn Group can mimic and achieve what was once only possible at in-person events. Most associations focus on face-to-face events and meetings for supporting current members and attracting new ones. Adding a LinkedIn Group will not only help members keep in touch with each other, but will allow them to be introduced to each other’s connections.
A group is the perfect place for members to share information, spark discussions, and even share job opportunities. Associations that strategically leverage all LinkedIn has to offer will not only retain existing members, but increase overall association membership.
When the goal is to attract new members, some associations prefer open groups. The benefits to this approach include:
- Letting potential members get a sense of whether your association might be one they’d be interesting in joining.
- Growth can be rapid, as people in the group bring their connections with them.
Many associations use LinkedIn Groups as a place where members come together to ask and answer questions. These modern day brainstorming sessions allow you to offer your expertise and build trust with those who attend.
LinkedIn Showcase Pages allow your association to post content to different pages that feature a specific product, service or event. They’re perfect for highlighting your association’s goals and purpose, and they allow you to promote – and cater to – targeted audiences. And just like company pages, your association can post updates and feature LinkedIn Groups that are connected to your product or service.
To foster membership growth, use each page to tell your association’s story in a way that relates to the members you are targeting. An effective story is one that creates an emotional connection with people and inspires them to want to get involved. Use videos to create a multimedia experience that engages potential members and encourages them to join.
While you can always request introductions through common contacts, you can also use LinkedIn InMail to help your association grow. Search LinkedIn for members who you think will be interested in your association and directly invite them through InMail to join your Group. The LinkedIn InMail policy now guarantees response through a request for introduction, or they give you a credit to use another InMail.
Use Social Media
Start to look at social media in a new way: in addition to advertising your association, also use the various platforms to talk about and promote your community members. In other words, when you put the focus on others, the people in your targeted markets will see they have a lot to gain by joining your association: attention for themselves and what they have to offer.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your association goals, and LinkedIn Company Pages and Groups will help you achieve them more quickly and in a more meaningful way. Granted, it takes time to develop lasting relationships, but it’s well worth the investment if the end goal of increased membership is achieved.
Although many people think of LinkedIn as strictly a career building platform, it is ideal for sharing industry information, connecting with peers, building credibility, and sharing quality content. The new professional contacts you make can serve to help you grow your association far beyond what was previously possible.