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Associations: Building Member Communities that Matter

Professional and trade associations play an integral role in the transition to the Next Normal: giving members insight into the latest updates in their industries and how other professionals are dealing with this massive change. As the Future of Work continues to unfold, people are looking to associations to guide them toward better understanding the skills they need to succeed and progress in their careers. This collaborative career growth transforms associations into communities.

According to the 2021 Association Trends Study, industry professionals cite training as the second most valuable aspect of belonging to a trade group—right behind keeping up with industry news.

Creating and promoting a learning path for members to earn credentials increases membership appeal for current and prospective members, especially for associations focused on helping members develop professionally. Adding a digital credentialing component offers members tangible benefits that transfer over to their workplaces.

Digital credentials: a game-changer

Digital credentials can optimize your association’s learning and credentialing program, making it a more engaging and distinct benefit for your members. They are highly visual and shareable online. And behind every digital credential is metadata that provides members with proof of learning. They can even help your members stand out on LinkedIn, supporting another key engagement driver—networking—and leading to career opportunities, promotions, and increased earnings.

3 steps for using a digital credential program to increase association appeal

Here are three steps to creating a digital credential program for your professional or trade association:

1. Identify upskilling and reskilling needs

Your members look to you for guidance on building meaningful professional networks and managing professional development, so it’s important to identify the skills they need to succeed and grow their careers. Luckily, as an association, you’ll have access to industry leaders with decades of experience and insight into future trends and hiring needs. Work with your members to pinpoint these skills to inform your credentialing program.

2. Build the right content for your members

What types of industry-specific questions do your members frequently ask? Are there topics or skills your association promises to help them grow? Any credentialing content and training you offer should align with your association’s goals. Figure out if you can just provide training or if you need to create a mechanism for members to prove proficiency through testing or some other verifiable process. The course as a whole, its content, and potential instructors are key elements in an effective program. And don’t forget about analyzing learning content consumption to figure out what’s working and what needs to be tweaked.

3. Promote, promote, promote

Every time a member shares their credential, it’s a meaningful brand impression on popular networking or in their email signature that gets viewed by their colleagues. Using digital credentials such as badges to recognize members for certifications, training, and event participation lets you represent your brand—and your members—the way you want. And all of this sharing, searching, and viewing can help develop a sense of community and attract new members.

Build a member community that matters

To start a digital credentialing program, you’ll want to work with a trusted platform like Credly Acclaim. Our Customer Success team will help your association identify its goals, align your existing professional development program (whether it’s conferences, seminars, or online training courses) with digital badges, and guide you through the implementation.

Contact us to learn more about how digital credentials can help your association recruit, engage and retain members.