Professional associations are facing tough times.
Over the last decade, about half of the associations showed a decline in membership. Understandably, many associations are asking themselves fundamental questions like:
- What value can we offer that members can’t find anywhere else?
- How can we boost member engagement and retention?
To respond effectively to these questions, your association needs to reconnect with some of the core needs and expectations of members.
What your members are looking for
Typically, people join professional associations to grow and prosper. They want to learn about new methods, legislation, and tools that will advance their careers. They want to stay compliant with industry requirements to maintain their good standing.
One major way your association can fulfill these needs is by providing engaging, effective, and customized training for your members. In fact, Learning & Development (L&D) activities can become a major pillar of your association’s raison d’être.
Of course, this pillar is already in place in some associations. Often, though, this L&D activity is tied to traditional models of instruction.
Drawbacks of old-style L&D
In the traditional L&D model, you hire instructors, rent meeting spaces, create, print, and distribute learning materials, and pay for travel, entertainment, and other costs incurred by both the organization and members.
Today, this training model is becoming a burden due to restricted budgets and the increasingly fast pace of life. Members want to learn anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
Meeting these needs presents an opportunity to transform your organization by converting traditional training into digital or hybrid training. As a result, you’d improve efficiency, cater to more people, streamline your operations, and even grow your revenues.
Enter educational technology
In such a landscape, a modern learning management system (LMS) can become a game-changing competitive advantage for your association.
An LMS is a software platform that enables you to efficiently manage, create, deliver, and promote learning activities.
The right LMS enables your association to fulfill your members’ L&D needs conveniently and cost-efficiently while offering your association the opportunity to become the learning hub in your industry.
The right LMS would enable your association to benefit in the following six ways:
1. Grow your revenues
Every industry has to deal with skill shortages. By offering easily accessible and relevant online training, you can help your members sharpen their skills in subjects relating to technical training, regulatory and compliance issues, and management, as well as “soft skills” like leadership and interpersonal communication.
As an association, your major strength is your privileged access to the goldmine of industry experts among your members. By tapping into this knowledge and experience, you can create authoritative courses and training materials that nobody can compete with.
By selling these courses or licensing them to your members, you can create a new revenue stream beyond dues. The right LMS can simplify every step of that process, from course creation to management and sales.
For example, if your LMS is an integrated all-in-one platform with state-of-the-art automation, you’ll liberate your staff from many of the repetitive tasks of managing instructional activities and products.
2. Expand the territory of your continuing education efforts
Typically, members living within driving distance of your association offices profit the most from access to training. But when you work with a cloud-based mobile-ready LMS, your association has no limits to the reach of your continuing education program.
Such reach makes your membership offer more appealing to a greater number of prospects, and thus improves your potential to expand membership.
3. Increase member engagement
To engage your members, your continuing education content needs to be relevant, personalized, and based on learner-friendly principles.
A modern LMS enables you to easily survey your members on their interests and to create and manage training activities that are customized to respond to those interests.
You can also stimulate more engagement by rewarding member achievement with badges. Once a member earns a badge, they can share it on social media, which can spark interest from potential members and support your recruiting efforts.
4. Simplify certifications
Adding training with a certification option can be a very appealing element in your association’s offer.
Working with a modern LMS simplifies compliance. For example, through a validation feature, you can easily evaluate a member’s prerequisites and eligibility.
Furthermore, you can effortlessly enroll the right people in the right course, track progress and completion both individually and as a group, and test your members to ensure compliance. Customizable dashboards can keep you up-to-date in real time.
Once the course is completed, certification is automatically delivered. That saves you so much time!
5. Create virtual networking opportunities
One of the key attractions of associations is the opportunity to network.
A modern LMS enables you to create L&D activities that include interactive forums, video conferencing, and group training. Such activities allow members to learn with other members and thus provide a channel for new interactions and connections with peers.
6. Partner with other firms to expand your training offer
You may see an educational need that goes beyond your capacity to fulfill.
Why not invite other organizations to share their programs or help you fill that capacity gap? The better you can meet your members’ training needs the more compelling becomes your offer.
Building a brighter future
Empowered by the benefits of your LMS, you would clearly increase the perceived value of your association and improve its perception within your industry.
Most importantly, you will have laid the foundations for fulfilling core member needs and creating a sustainable future for your professional association.