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Improve Your Association’s Performance With Online Collaboration

Imagine an energized community of members who are contributing time, resources, conversation, input and excitement to the opportunities, issues and deliverables your association highlights.

Fueling the engine of renewals and recruitment

Increased participation of members serves to strengthen their commitment to the organization (resulting in their individual renewal).

Their excitement is contagious and their contribution draws in more members to association discussion and activity (resulting in additional renewals).

The increased association energy and contribution serves to enhance existing member offerings by improving the quality of conference sessions, or increasing the abundance, quality and relevance of resources, and helps to identify new offerings  (resulting in more effective recruitment).

Using online collaboration to build the engine

Today’s association management systems provide so much more than a repository of member data.

With almost universal online access among members, the best association management solutions provide an online collaboration platform perfect for meeting, sharing, and commenting on the issues, events, and resources members wish to explore and utilize.

This enables an association to build a peer-to-peer community.  The association can showcase its member experts by providing a forum for member-to-member connection, contribution, and networking.

Groups, Reputation Scoring and Member Matching:  Foundation of Peer-to-Peer Online Collaboration

Three areas that contribute to robust online collaboration are groups, reputation scoring, and member matching.


Online collaboration provides a virtual meeting place for groups working on behalf of the association.  Group projects may include event planning committees, communication committees, member outreach, and so on.

Groups are defined segments of your community with an online space to conduct focused discussions and projects, house resources relevant to the group project, distribute surveys and announcements, and plan events.  Online collaboration tools allow you the option of making the space public for all to see or to have a variety of privacy permissions to limit the visibility of online group activity.

Groups can be managed by staff or by a member leader according to your preference.  Because information is online, it is readily accessible to group members whenever it is convenient for them to log in and reduces inbox clutter.

Reputation scoring

Who are the members who are the most active, connected and engaged?  Reputation scoring is one way your association management system can help you gather information about member engagement levels.  What are the actionable items you’d like to track and encourage among your members?  And which are the most important actions that contribute to a more energized online community?

Actions might be completing one’s member profile; answering a survey question; sharing resources; starting and online discussion; replying to an online inquiry, etc.

For example, you may choose to assign higher points to particular activities:  completing one’s profile earns 7 points, while replying to an online inquiry might earn 5 points, and answering a survey question might be 3 points.  You can decide which actions are the most important to fostering the online member experience.

Member matching

Easily aligning members is another benefit of online collaboration.  Through your association management solution or online community platform, you should be able to map a series of questions, responses and criteria that allows you to segment and match members.  For example, for a networking focus, set up questions such as “Would you like to be a mentor?” to match with “Would you like to be mentored?” coupled with questions on interest and specialties to create a specific relationship between members.

A more meaningful member experience is facilitated because you can route information most relevant to the member based on their interests.

Sound planning leads to sound results

As you prepare to put technology to work for your association, plan, benchmark, educate and promote your online collaboration offering.

Ensure the success of your online collaboration by establishing SMART goals:

  • Specific – to focus the members, groups, staff (community) and your resources
  • Measurable – to verify achievements and to identify which efforts are successful
  • Actionable – to empower your membership to take positive steps to achieve results
  • Relevant – to ensure that all stakeholders add and receive value
  • Trackable – to provide the data to maintain efforts long term and course correct when needed

Keep your association relevant and attractive to members by deploying and staying abreast of technology that allows your staff and community to perform at a much more effective and fulfilling level. Online collaboration helps you accomplish that by bringing together technology, people and purpose; providing a structure and venue for a greater member experience.

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