When people come to their first meeting they will check out how the group operates and decide whether they feel they can contribute to the group’s goals.
If they feel on the outside and don’t understanding what is going on then they likely won’t return for future meetings. It is important that their first experience with the group is a good one.
Making the right first impression
If you see someone new arrive, introduce yourself and talk to them – just don’t ignore them. This can be hard if you are not naturally an extrovert but taking the time to greet new people can make a difference to their experience of the group.
Consider acting as a mentor, or buddy, for a new member. Explain how things work and, if necessary, explain any references to previous work done by the group.
Does you group have a specific process for welcoming new people? Please reply to this post and share your group’s approach so we can all learn.
Make room for them to contribute
When someone joins a new group it is generally with the intention of becoming involved in their activities.
If you are working on something, try and include at least one person who has never done that particular sort of work before.
If small working groups are used to do particular jobs try and have someone new involved and not be made up exclusively of regulars or the most experienced.
How does your group involve new people and allow them to contribute? Do you have a success story you can share?
Response – Maria Gillies
Hi There, I totally agree with regard to helping new members feel welcomed. I have attended many gatherings over my working life, in various fields, and I always experienced much ‘better’, more enjoyable events when I felt welcomed…..so, that is what I endeavoured to do at our Mareeba Seed Savers and Gardening Group events when I joined.
We began using a dedicated ‘Welcome Table’ (a small folding table) that is positioned close to the entrance of the venue. There is always someone at the Welcome Table to help, direct and support any new faces joining us. As the months went by, we have found we usually need two people to be at the Welcome Table with the number of new people attending. It really helps to be greeted with a smiling face when one is in an unfamiliar area and doesn’t know anyone.
We have a sign in book on the Welcome Table that allows new people to add their contact details if they choose and the area they are from. All contact details are collected and kept with respect and confidentiality and are never shared with other groups or individuals. By asking people to ‘sign in’ it allows us to keep them updated with the details of future events and any other interesting gardening workshops or events that are happening in our area.
The Welcome Table also acts as the central place to go to and organise membership if someone chooses to join the Mareeba Seed Savers Group. We have received a lot of very positive feedback from people who arrived at one of our events, didn’t know anyone, and yet, immediately felt welcomed into the group. We have found that when someone has a positive experience that first time, they are far more inclined to keep returning and that is indeed what we want to foster….a feeling of enjoyment and love for seed saving and gardening.