September Hot Topic – Membership Retention and Recruitment

Membership is an important topic in every SWE section.  It is our members that make up SWE, from general members to section leadership to society level leadership.  So, how does a section gain new members?  And how do you retain the members you’ve got?

  1. Start the year off strong – finding new members is easiest to do at the start of the year.  Try hosting a table at your university’s student club fair.  Visit underclassmen classes in the engineering department, such as introductory courses.  Host an opening social to welcome back old members and to introduce new members to SWE.  Try something different and exciting for your opening social.  The University of Utah SWE brought puppies to play with at the opening social, UC Riverside hosted an ice cream social,
  2. Recognize your members – provide incentives for members to keep coming to events, such as giveaways of SWE swag (conferences and job fairs are a great place to pick up engineering themed goodies) or free food (always popular with college students).
  3. Use social media – a great way to keep members engaged is through social media.  Start a blog or a facebook page.  Both are free and easy to use, and can provide a great resource to current and prospective members alike. Use this to ADVERTISE.  Nothing drives members away like not knowing what is going on.  Use social media, email lists, and flyers posted around buildings to get the word out about SWE.
  4. Ask your members – everyone wants to know that their voice is heard.  Ask your members what they want out the organization.  Are they interested in outreach events, or in networking with companies?  Are they looking to partner with the local professional SWE section or get additional leadership training?  What kind of socials are they interested in: movie nights, resume workshops, how to classes?  Surveys, online and in person, are a simple way to ask your members.  Another simple way is by simply talking to your members.  When you see them between classes, chat with them.  After meetings, take time to mingle and get to know your members.
  5. Encourage participation – invite new members to come to leadership meetings.  Suggest to members that they join a committee, or take on some responsibility in planning an event.  Help members join SWE at the society level, offer discounts on events and t-shirts for those who join.

If you have a best practice, or something that your section uses to recruit and keep members, please leave in the comments.

 

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