BEST PRACTICES FOR A COUNTY NEW MEMBER EVENT
Make this a team effort; don’t do it all alone! Work with your county exec. board to make your event happen. Host a planning meeting. At the meeting:Identify the goals of your new member event. Common goals include:
• Creating a fun atmosphere and a memorable event.
• Introducing new members to the county association: its officers, office, services, etc.
• Will county committees have a presence at their own tables? How about promoting your county newsletters and website?
• Have an officer present a giveaway, etc.
• Providing members with the opportunity to interact with their colleagues from across the county.
• A DJ would create a festive atmosphere.
• Provide a way for members to mix and mingle to get their meals.
• Will it be exclusive to new members?Will there be a theme at your event (i.e. Mardi Gras, Luau, clam bake, etc.)?
o This is optional.
o Some locals report success with a scavenger hunt. At these events, members are given a “passport” that is stamped each time they visit a certain area or table. Sometimes the scavenger hunts have different questions about certain committees and services that NJEA provides. When complete, members turn in their passports, and they are pulled out for raffles. Is there a way to infuse tips and advice for new members into the event? Consider:
• Time management tips.
• Advice for dealing with difficult parents.
• What kinds of things they need to plan for at what times in the year.
• Could your county create a “playbook” or survival guide for new members?Is there a way to give new members a chance to participate?
• Members like to share. You could bring members together (or break them into small groups with a county officer in each) and ask them some fun icebreakers, including do you have any tattoos? Find members who have the same cell phone as you. Find members who drive the same car as you. Find members who live in the same town as you, etc.
o Consider using some conversation starter games, including the Table Topics series (available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com).
• Make it fun first, and then infuse the serious stuff.
• How do you include your ESPs in the discussion?
• Also consider more *serious* questions as the event moves forward. Share the best thing that happened to you thus far this school year. Who was your favorite school employee growing up? What inspired you go to into education? Etc.
o You could bring members together several times throughout the event and give them opportunities to share. It would be fun to give each member who shares a giveaway or promotional item, etc. Consider appropriate locations. Consider music, decorations, etc.
• Consider locations that are easy to get to and find.
• Counties are reporting success with new locations such as river cruises, trips to wineries, sporting events, etc. Discuss the menu that you will offer.Consider inviting NJEA staff members to your event as well as others.
• Invite your UniServ field reps and your NJEA government relations contact.
• Consider your seating arrangement. Will staff sit together or with members?
• Phil Lomonico can coordinate NJEA’s member benefit partners to have a present at the event (think Member Benefit Fair). Contact Phil early with dates.
• Invite NJEA staff who run programs, such as PRIDE, HIPP, Classroom Close-Up, professional development, etc.
• Invite other Membership Committee members! Email Kathy Byrne at firstname.lastname@example.org
to forward your invites to members. Also consider using the NJEA Member to Member Message Board (http://www.njea.org/messageboard
).Construct your agenda for the event.
• Who will speak (keep it short) and on what topics?
• Who will take pictures / video? Where will the pictures and video be posted (consider using new outlets such as Instagram and Vine along with traditional outlets [association website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.])? Keep in mind that there are members who appreciate the hard copy of a newsletter.
• Will you ask members to rate the event via an *feedback form* or survey? Will you ask members what they would like to see in future events? Members like to give feedback, so don’t be shy about asking for improvement ideas. Marketing your event:Brainstorm strategies to market the event. You might consider:
• Postcards to new members in your county.
• Your UniServ office can help you to obtain the contact information for your 0—5 year new members.
• Emails to new members in your county.
• Text messages to new members in your county. There are cell phone plans available that will allow you to easily send text messages to your members.
• Email the membership chairs in local associations. County officers can access MARS to find this info.
• Creating a flier that local presidents can distribute to new members.
• CONTACTING EVERY LOCAL PRESIDENT IN YOUR COUNTY IS A MUST!
• Posting the event on your county association Facebook page. Encourage members to share the post on their own pages.
• Some counties have public TV networks. Consider using this source.
• Encourage verteran members to bring a new member.
• Ask the mentors in your county to bring their mentees.
• How do you encourage ESP members to attend? Are your marketing techniques different? Finalize the RSVP procedure and make sure to incorporate it into your flier.Consider what your marketing materials will say.
• Remember that members’ time is precious. Strive to make your event relevant to them. Emphasize fun, and remember that new members like to network.
• “If you feed them, they will come.”
• It would be prudent to share your materials with a small group of new members (think market research) prior to sending them out. Ask for feedback and improvement ideas. At the event:Greet new members at the door and welcome them when they arrive.
• Not everyone is a “greeter.” Find a member who is good at this.
• Introduce yourself.Give each new member a name tag and maybe a *goodie bag* at the sign in. Goodie bag contents count include:
• Membership in NJEA is a Great Value brochure.
• NJEA social media fliers and information.
• Member benefits fliers and information.A welcome gift, such as:
• A county association flash drive.
• iPhone case.
• USB car charger.
o Contact NJEA’s PRIDE vendor, Renaissance Promotions, for assistance (1-877-692-2435).
• Supplies from Beckers, etc.
o See that everyone has a name tag.
• Consider color coding the name tags (all first year members could have the same color, all elementary teachers could have a special sticker, etc.).
o Introduce them to others.If applicable:
o Show new members where to sit (if you are using assigned seating).
o Show them where the refreshments are.
o Introduce the new members to the group.
• Do it at the beginning of the program so everyone knows they’re new.
• Give folks some background on the new person – it gives others conversation starters with them.Use clear language/ terminology:
o Speak in terms the newcomer understands.
o Be conscious of acronyms and abbreviated terms. Give members a glossary or list of acronyms.
o Give them an organization chart with names so they know who’s who and how the county organization fits together.
o Give them a list of committees or subgroups within the county organization and what each does.
o Share the agenda and a calendar of events.
• Give them the long-term picture so they know what’s coming so they can plan ahead too.After the event:
o Follow up after the event. Consider emailing or mailing thank you’s to participants. In your message, direct them to association resources.
o After they’ve settled in, arrange another event. Invite new members to the next event or a key upcoming event. Ask them to bring a friend/friends.
• Future events could include ESP celebrations, tenure celebrations, workshops, etc.
o Offer coupons for local businesses.
• Does your county have a “partnership in education” with local businesses? Some counties offer businesses a sticker to put in their window that reads something to the effect of, “We support public schools,” etc.