You have an idea for a membership. You put together the software and create the right content. You take a deep breath and hit “Send” on the email that tells your list all about it.
Unfortunately, the work isn’t over when you hit that send button. Another challenge awaits: keeping your people engaged.
Despite the fact that it’s challenging, it’s one of the most critical aspects of running a membership site.
In short, a membership simply won’t work unless you’re successful with engagement.
So, how do you make sure that engagement happens?
I recently interviewed more than 30 leaders of thriving membership programs for The Movement Summit, one of the largest online membership conferences of the year.
Here, I learned a surprising truth about successful membership site owners.
When you interact with leaders of engaged memberships, it’s easy to think that there’s just some innate part of their personality that makes them naturally attractive to their tribe.
However, in nearly every interview, the leader actually shared that they’ve learned many lessons along the way.
Some even confided that growth was much slower than they expected early on.
Through these conversations, I learned that there are essentially five “habits” that leaders of highly engaged membership communities routinely do.
You might want to hire someone to help you set up the technical foundation of your membership site, then follow these steps to keep it running optimally.
Habit #1: You’re always listening to what your tribe is saying.
Engaging leaders listen not only to what’s being said directly to them by members, but they also listen beyond the answers.
They listen for what’s not being said.
They listen for what’s being talked about when they aren’t in the room.
When you ask an engaging leader what their members care about, they actually know without equivocation.
They use data. They use surveys. They use interviews. They use social media. They are tuned in to the right channels.
Habit #2: You’re always focused on what’s possible.
I’ve always believed that people join membership programs because they want something to be different in their lives, their businesses, their industry or their world.
What became clear to me through the interviews is this:
Leaders of engaging memberships are masterful at describing the future as it can be.
They shift their members beyond the problems of the present to reveal a future that is worth the effort to create.
Habit #3: You show up.
From daily emails to making personal phone calls simply to check-in, to introducing people who should know each other, engaging leaders often spoke of uncommon ways they show up for their members.
For anyone who ever thought that membership could be a “set-it-and-forget-it” experience, listening to just a few of these interviews would surely reveal the folly of that approach.
Habit #4: You’re committed to value and are always ready to grow.
Leaders of thriving memberships don’t just talk about creating value.
Value is their measuring stick, determining what they do more of and what they strip away.
Are members participating? If not, why not?
Are success stories happening? Have member needs changed? Are there new ways to serve?
Never satisfied with the status quo, you’ll find engaging leaders continuously seeking improvement.
Habit #5: You care about the human person in every interaction.
Engagement is, in many ways, the organizational equivalent of “charisma”.
When you’re with someone who oozes charisma, you feel their presence in a room. When they talk, they have a way of communicating and persuading that is irresistibly charming. If they’re passionate, your own excitement stirs. If they’re deeply disturbed, you’ll find yourself rising to the defense.
Leaders of engaging memberships become expert communicators.
They leverage the language of their people. They work toward shared goals and they combat common enemies.
You’re totally capable of building an engaging, successful membership site
These habits reveal that creating engagement isn’t magical or something reserved only for extroverted tribe-builders. Instead, powerful engagement can be generated from skills and habits that can be learned and improved over time.
And that’s truly heartening, isn’t it?
Pick a habit and master how to run a successful membership site
There’s no need to tackle all of the habits at once. Simply choose one area to focus on in the weeks ahead and build from there.
About The Author
Since 2005, Joy Duling been quietly helping smart, creative, passionate changemakers launch membership programs. For her, membership is more than a business model. It’s a powerful platform for uniting your unique tribe of followers around the change you were meant to bring to the world. You’ll find Joy hanging out at JoyofMembership.com.