Private professional networks are empowering membership associations to reach new heights. By bringing people together, working towards a shared vision of the future, these digital networks are succeeding in enhancing member satisfaction, boosting engagement and improving operations.

Member associations – whether professional associations, trade associations, nonprofit, or anything else – all have the same ultimate goal: to spark change. And change is something that’s very much needed. Fortunately, many member associations are succeeding in implementing change on a small, localised scale. But there are obstacles in the way in terms of making a larger difference.

So what’s the solution? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not artificial intelligence. It’s people.

It’s all about people

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being utilised more and more, including across many membership associations. For improving efficiency, this is a powerful move. After all, AI-driven automation, analytics and more can help associations achieve more, with less. The problem is that AI is often viewed as a magical solution to everything. But that’s not always the case.

Real change comes from real people, with real ideas. Humans have infinite creativity that goes beyond what any of us can comprehend. This is something that even the most highly-trained machine-learning technologies will never be able to emulate. AI cannot replace the power of people.

Using AI to implement and action innovative new ideas? If so, great! But there are no ideas without people – most importantly from people with different perspectives, different views, different beliefs and different areas of expertise. What they have in common is they all share the same vision for a brighter future.

Think about the Peloton brand, for example. They massively changed the at-home exercise landscape. It was a big disrupter. But it wasn’t a singular effort, nor did it come from AI. Peloton say that they ‘brought the best talent in technology, hardware and production together to accomplish an ambitious goal: bring the community and excitement of boutique fitness into the home’.

They didn’t do it alone. Instead, they bought real people together from different yet complementary areas to generate bigger, more widespread change than any one person or group could accomplish.

And this is something member associations are beginning to become increasingly interested in.

Bringing people together

With people being the key to enhancing the power of membership associations, an important question to ask is ‘what brings people together’? Ultimately, there are three vital elements:

  1. Strong connections, shared interests and similar values
  2. A feeling of belonging and inclusion with a particular group
  3. A reason to keep coming back to that particular group – e.g. to be educated

When we look at it like this, it’s easy to see where private professional networks fit in. They can play a role in helping member associations get real work done, become industry leaders and create deep, widespread and lasting change – all of which facilitates the development of a better world.

What is a private professional network?

A private professional network is a digital platform that enables communication and collaboration between members in a safe, secure and private virtual environment. Similar to public professional networks like LinkedIn, these invite-only alternatives allow for member associations, businesses and nonprofits to build their own online communities full of trusted individuals with aligned incentives.

The networks can be used for a wide range of purposes, from providing ongoing professional education and training to mentorship, coaching, innovation, development, learning, research and more. And within these association-wide networks are the potential for smaller niches, ensuring that every member and every stakeholder has a place that’s relevant to their own needs and interests. For example, a healthcare association may develop niches for medical researchers, GPs, area specialists, and patients, with each ‘room’ providing information and discussion that’s most relevant.

Ultimately, a private professional network is a way to bring people together. It’s a way to scale together, develop together, explore new opportunities and possibilities together – and move forward together. It’s a way of empowering membership associations to achieve even more and take operations to the next level; to not just move forward, but to become a movement in their own right.

Real-life examples

Obesity Canada is a global leader in supporting healthcare professionals to provide the very best in obesity care. The association excelled in offering high-quality training courses for members. But while this helped to educate individuals on best practices, the scope for taking that further – for generating new ideas for improved care and taking action for a better tomorrow – was limited.

With the development of a private professional network, the association’s members were able to do more. They could collaborate with peers, working together with different yet like-minded people, all of whom had been invited into the network for a purpose: to take an active role in changing obesity care for the better.

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European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) is an expansive community of scientists, public health practitioners, physicians, and more, located all across the continent. With so many different members of the community all coming together to drive change, communications between different groups had been somewhat chaotic, with many experiencing challenges in finding the information they needed to make informed decisions and achieve real results.

It was such a waste to have these brilliant minds together as part of a single association, with no reliable way to combine their talents and work together to change the landscape. But with a private professional network, they could – and did. 

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Supporting membership associations

Membership associations play an important role in supporting their members and helping them achieve their goals. But these associations need support, too.

That’s exactly what private professional networks are for: empowering membership organisations and taking them to new heights; to places where they’re stronger, more robust, and better able to spark real change, and drive real results. Get in touch with us here at More Time To to find out more about private professional networks.

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