In a past career I was doula, someone who provides pregnant women with informational, emotional and physical support throughout pregnancy, birth and the post-postpartum period. Translation: I know a lot about keeping moms and babies happy, healthy and engaged during those first few days, weeks and months.
And since a baby is the epitome of a new community member, I couldn’t help but notice during a recent conversation with a fellow team member at The CR that on-boarding a new member has a lot of similarities to on-boarding a new baby.
Hear me out.
When you have a baby your midwife or doctor gives the baby a full examination. Then
within 24-48 hours s/he returns to check-in on mom and baby again. These are critical moments that assure that baby (and mom) are healthy and assess whether they need any special attention or assistance. During the first few moments there are lots of questions, tips and encouragement. If everything is good the next visit is usually two weeks later with another at six-eight weeks. At this point Mom and baby are handed off to the pediatrician who sees the baby at six months, nine months, and 12 months. And then? Most parents know the answer to this one – the baby moves to yearly well visit check-ups.
Now why in the world do newborns have so many check-ups in the first year?
Because the baby’s long-term health and well being need to be established. Those first few hours are the most critical, then days, then months. Once the newest little member of the community continues to show that they are thriving and adjusting to their surroundings, the medical profession can back off a bit, take a deep breath and rest assured that everything is going well.
A new baby is a lot like a new online community member. In relationship to the community they are delicate, impressionable and need to be nurtured into full-grown members. Their introduction to the community is a critical part of their long-term impression of, participation in and future success within the community.
At The Community Roundtable we pride ourselves in the attention and care we give to all our members, but we understand putting some extra time and care into our new members pays off by establishing a healthy relationship critical to long-term loyalty. After a member has a full year under their belt we certainly don’t stop engaging with them, but by paying specific attention to their on-boarding process we find that more established members need less attention. And we also find that we have gotten to know them better and therefore are able to help them connect with others in the network, pass along articles and content that makes sense for them and encourage them to join expert speaker calls that will help with their particular needs. If we didn’t take the time with them in that first year, we might not know what their particular needs may be and meet them successfully.
I have learned from experience that making good connections within the first hours, days and months sets a foundation for long term success. It’s much more difficult to connect with a member who’s been enrolled for three months, but hasn’t had much contact or engagement. (Though we don’t give up, I assure you)
The relationship between what I did as a Doula and what I do now was evident when we were working on strategy around our on-boarding process. Based on our past experiences with new members we wanted to identify critical “touch points” in the process. Using this knowledge and my doula training we set up a procedure to connect with a new members:
- Within hours (a post on their wall)
- Within days (a welcome email inviting them to make an appointment for a new member interview)
- Within weeks (a new member interview/call)
- Within months (a group new member call) and
- At six to nine months (casual email/phone check-ins)
We believe that by establishing these regular touch points by our members’ first birthdays we’ll have full grown, thriving loyal members. We understand these touch points are specific to our community and know each community has its own critical moments for new members.
What are the critical “touch point” moments for your new members? How do you grow mature, thriving new community members?
TheCR Network is a membership network that provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders. The network enables members to connect and form lasting relationships with experts and peers as well as get access to vetted content.