Welcoming New Members
“Well Promoted Clubs” | “Sustainable Clubs” | “Great People In Clubs”
As part of the 2014 Triathlon Scotland Exchange event a workshop for Club Officers was held entitled The Novice Gateway, in this workshop the group looked welcoming novices members in to triathlon clubs. This article is a follow up to that session.
Why do people join clubs?
People join sports clubs for a variety of reasons, some might decide a club is for them because it provides coaches swimming in a 50m pool, others might choose a club based on the kit they like best but more often than not people join a club where they think they will be part of a group of people who believe what they believe and enjoy doing things the same way as they do. This can be summarised as:
- Relationships – The friendships formed
- Community – The tribe
- The Stuff! – The physical offerings
It is therefore important to remember that people will not only be looking at what your club does, but also how it goes about it.
The joining process
This process starts a long time before a new member fills in a membership form and hands over their hard earned cash. It begins from the moment they begin to look into joining a club, the most common first step for most people these days is to head for the internet and your club’s website.
What does your website say about your club?
When someone logs on to your clubs website for the first time what will their first impression be? “Wow, what a great club, look what they got up to last weekend, I want some of that!” or “They don’t seem to have been up to much since 2009, if only I could go back in time…”
- Keep your website front page right up-to-date.
- Tell people what your club believes in, why does it exist?
- Think about what will grab a potential new members imagination.
- Keep the front page clear of too much clutter.
When deciding what to say about your club on the front page it is important to not only tell people what the club does but why it does it. For more information on why you should do this watch this youtube video of a talk by Simon Sinek entitled “Start With Why”.
Once a potential new member has been inspired by what they have seen on your club’s website the next step will more often than not be for them to make contact with someone in the club via email. The person who deals with member enquiries can then give them the relevant information, answer any queries and steer them to the correct session to get them started.
Clubs have different ways of dealing with membership enquiries, in some clubs the secretary will have a good knowledge of all the different aspects of the club and will be able to respond to each potential new member, for others the secretary might be happy to initially read each email then pass it onto the relevant person for response, for example the youth section leader if the enquiry comes from a parent of a young athlete.
- Have a generic email address such as email@example.com for enquiries.
- Replies should be informative, inviting and offer the opportunity for discussion.
- Make a club welcome pack (example), with general information about the club.
- Give details of who to look for when they attend their first session.
When a new member is coming to your club for the first time it is likely they will feel nervous and a little lonely, when they arrive it is important they are quickly made to feel welcome, giving them some dignity and status. It is the responsibility of every member of the club to help make this happen as quickly as possible.
- Give the new member details of exactly where to meet before the session and what is likely to happen.
- Make coaches easily identifiable to all newcomers.
- Coaches should guide the newcomer into the correct group and explain to them what they will be doing.
- Ensure someone at the club knows they are coming so they can be welcomed.
By having someone, normally either the lead coach or the club president introduce themself to the new member and if possible use the newcomer’s name when they do quickly removes the loneliness and awkwardness of not knowing anyone.
After The Session
After they have had their first session a new member will hopefully be buzzing and excited for more, this is afterall why they came! At this point it is good if someone has a short conversation with them about thier initial experiences and then steers them towards other sessions they might enjoy. This could be straight after the session or by, for example, email the following day.