First impressions truly matter. In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article titled “How to Make a Great First Impression”, several psychologists assert that the first few interactions are crucial turning points in a relationship. “First impressions matter so much because they happen fast”, according to the article, and they’re incredibly hard to bounce back from when mishandled.
In the associations world, the need to forge deep and lasting bonds with members is omnipresent. And like any relationship, the roots of membership are planted in the very first impression: joining and onboarding. When members first join your organization, they don’t want to get handed a receipt and soon after be forgotten about. They want to feel valued, welcome, and important. Newcomers are hungry to get involved and hit the ground running, but that hunger can fade if not satiated by an effective member onboarding program.
New member onboarding means different things to different associations, but it all boils down to one common goal: making new members feel valued and excited from the moment they join. In the long run, positive first impressions with newcomers will pay dividends for your organization’s ability to retain loyal members.