Through the Distinguished Club Program (DCP), Toastmasters International has set parameters to help members create and maintain high-performing clubs. One of the DCP qualifiers is membership.
To qualify for DCP consideration, clubs must have either 20 members or a net growth of at least 5 new members by June 30. Some clubs find this easy. Others find it a struggle.
To add new members, it's important to have guests at your club meetings. But a guest is not a guest until a person shows up, so how do you get them there?
Over the years, I have talked with many club guests and have noticed four common patterns reflecting how such individuals end up at club meetings.
1 Even in this day of social media, the most common way people learn about your club is through the Toastmasters website. Obviously, you have no control over whether or not a person goes to the site and clicks on Find a Club. You can, however, take advantage when they do. Does your club’s page in the Find a Club section have a link to your club’s website? Some club pages don’t. Most clubs have a website or a Facebook page. One or the other should be linked to the Toastmasters site.
Once a prospective guest clicks on the club website link, do they see a website that promotes your club? Many clubs just have the generic Toastmasters description. While this is good, prospective guests already know the value of the organization or they wouldn’t now be searching for clubs. Chances are good they will select several to visit. You want to be on that short list. Why should they pick you?
Take the time to customize your homepage. What makes your club unique? What is its personality? Do your meetings focus on fun? Or are you, perhaps, a serious, professional group? Do you specialize in a particular profession? Make the visitor to your page say, “I’ve got to check this out!”
2Social media is certainly another way to attract guests. A number of platforms are out there. A popular one is Meetup. The advantage of a site like this is that people who go there may not even be aware that Toastmasters exists. It is a different group of people from those who typically visit the Toastmasters website.
You might also want to consider a Facebook Group. Many people use this platform, as well—even those who aren’t looking for cat videos.
3 Another common way guests find their way to a club is through the old-fashioned personal invitation. In my club’s most recent meeting, we had a second-time guest who was invited by a member. Not only did she join, she brought along a friend who was also ready to join. We gain many of our members by extending invitations to visit. You can too.
4 A fourth way guests find their way to your club is direction from their manager at work. It is not uncommon for a guest to say, “I’m here because my boss said I needed to join a Toastmasters club.” Such people typically use the Find a Club feature on the Toastmasters site, but what if the manager was already aware of your club’s existence? What if they told the employee, “You need to join Toastmasters, and there is a club that meets right around the corner. Here is their information.”
How would management have this information? Ideally, because someone from your club had previously contacted the company. What companies have offices near your club meeting place? Which people within the company would be most likely to recommend the club to their staff? Sales managers? Marketing managers? Human resources departments? A quick look at the corporate website might tell you their names and contact information. You could then either tailor an introductory letter to them or drop on by for a visit. This could even be a club project.
Is there a particular industry widely represented in your club? My club is made up primarily of certified public accountants and other members of the financial services industry. This was the best place for our club to start attracting members. What about yours?
These various suggestions are, of course, not an exhaustive list of possibilities. Hopefully, you have an unending flow of guests at your meetings, but if you don’t, use your creativity to generate ways of changing that. After all, that is the first step in moving your membership well above the 20-person level.
Bill Brown, DTM is a speech delivery coach in Gillette, Wyoming. He is a member of Energy Capital Toastmasters in Gillette. Learn more at www.billbrownspeechcoach.com.