What can Dale Carnegie teach us about member personalization?

In 1936, Dale Carnegie published one of the best-selling books of all time, How to Win Friends & Influence People. More than 30 million copies have sold and more than 8 million people have graduated from Dale Carnegie training, including Warren Buffet who said:

“In my office, you will not see the degree I have from the University of Nebraska, or the master’s degree I have from Columbia University, but you’ll see the certificate I got from the Dale Carnegie course.”

Everyone wants to win friends and influence people, including associations. You want to capture the attention, interest, and loyalty of volunteers, members, customers, prospects, journalists, policy-makers, and maybe even consumers.

Carnegie gave advice for face-to-face communication, but his principles still apply to email and other digital channels. His insight into human nature remains relevant today. He taught the value of listening, observing behavior, and appealing to individual needs and desires. If he were on the association speaking circuit, Carnegie would tell you to personalize membership. Let’s take a look at some of his other advice from How to Win Friends & Influence People.

1 – “Of course you are interested in what you want… But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want.”

Associations want to be member-centric, but their perspective is often inside-out rather than outside-in. The membership value proposition is usually based on what the association says is valuable, not what members believe is valuable. Adopt an outside-in approach and find out what members really value.

Be a partner in their success. Involve members (and even non-members) in the early discussions about new products and services. Don’t assume you know what they need, instead be guided by their conversations and, most importantly, by their behavior. Behavioral data, like email clicks, teach you more about a member’s interests than an annual survey.

2 – “Talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”

Associations have a lot to say about events, education, and products. The default is to publish more promotional messages than informational ones, but it should be the opposite—that’s what members want.

Review your communication with people at the start of their membership journey. When you market membership to prospects, are you selling or educating? Build a closer relationship with prospects by teaching them what they need to know. Then, show them how your association can help them get what they want.

Connect whatever you’re promoting to a member goal. How will this event impact their career? Whom will they meet? What will they learn? Why is that important?

3 – “You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

Associations want to get members engaged on the association’s terms. They encourage members to join a committee, participate in this, or do that. Remember, it’s not about what you want, it’s about what the member wants. Engagement has to be on their terms.

A member’s idea of engagement may not look like traditional engagement. They may not be interested in committee service or three-day events. They may prefer a more passive mode of engagement. They may want a selection of curated, personalized content delivered to their inbox, instead of spending time searching the web to find it themselves.

4 – “To be interesting, be interested.”

Demonstrate your interest in members by listening to them regularly. Give them a chance to talk about themselves. During most membership orientations, the presentation is all about the association. Flip it by asking questions instead.

Ask members about their challenges and aspirations. What do they need or want to learn? What sort of people do they want to meet? What problems do they need to solve? What goals do they have for the next few years? Ask these questions every year because people, jobs, and careers change.

What are my next steps toward member personalization?

Show your community that you are ready to personalize the member experience. You can use rasa.io to send personalized news to your members, infused with your own blogs, news, and educational content. Then you can learn from member click and interaction data to inform your own content and educational event plans. Schedule a newsbrief demo today or register for our upcoming product demo webinar.

Tune in next week for the second set of recommendations from Dale Carnegie on how your association can make it personal.