4. Recruit members
A steady influx of new members helps to keep your club vibrant and forward-looking. As well as enlarging the pool of people to play with, and to create club teams and leagues, the recruitment of newer and younger members ensures that you’re building a participation base for the next generation of top club players.
When you are looking to recruit new members (which should be an ongoing action point for your committee – perhaps you may like to appoint a “Recruitment Officer”), look at the set-up of your particular club and identify what the barriers to potential members are.
These can be:
* Real Barriers, e.g. your society/club does a lot of things that cost money; or
* Perceived Barriers, e.g. thinking that the time requirements are too high.
Once you identify these, you can then look to respond to them and recruit new members.
Once your membership grows, you’ll require some form of database to keep track of all your member details. There are several software programmes available, and some clubs undertake an online membership database where members can update their own details, however a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet works just as well – use whatever works best for you.
Maintaining a database like this has several benefits:
* it’s easy to find and update each member’s record;
* the entire database can be transferred on disk from one officer to another when post-holders change; and
* you can quickly analyse the membership information to find out, for example, how many of your members will be graduating soon; how many live off-campus; and what the diversity of your membership is (e.g. do you need to recruit more women?).
* Key Tip: get University ID numbers when players join! This will make it much easier for you to complete forms for the UPC events!
It’s also a good idea to create a “welcome pack” for all new members, which can be quickly updated year-to-year, to help them to find their way around the club and feel at home more quickly. It makes them feel valued and will help them to stay committed to your club. A welcome pack might include:
* A welcome letter from the club chair or committee;
* The club handbook, with any relevant policies or rules;
* Details of the regular internal competitions and practice sessions with dates, times and locations;
* A calendar of other events and matches e.g. UPC events (www.upc-pool.org.uk), coaching sessions, socials, award nights; and
* Information about the league and competition structures/formats.
* The club website domain, if you have one – a club website makes it much easier to communicate everything you need to new members.
But where to go to find new members?
Certainly the best place at the start of the year is around the actual pool tables themselves, and so many of your marketing tools (outlined in the section above) should be aimed around these areas in the early days, and to a lesser degree throughout the year. The clearest example of this is to place your general promotional posters near to any pool table on or near to campus!
But this won’t be the only place to find pool players – Freshers Fairs and other market areas will have an abundance of potential new members and so certainly look to get a stall at one or all of these. However, take care to manage your stall properly – make sure you don’t have too many people running the stall at any one time as it will look crowded, unapproachable and clique.
New students could be nervous but are eager to get involved. Talk to as many people as you can and try to remember their names so that they feel valued when they come to the first meeting or competition. Take care to make new (and indeed old) members feel welcome and involved.
As mentioned in the competitions section below, varying your events and disciplines can also help to recruit members – have practice nights as well as single, team and mixed competitions. Indeed, mixed-doubles are generally great social nights and a useful way to get new people involved, especially women as pool is a traditionally male-dominated sport.
You may also like to adapt the entry requirements of your events – have open membership to everyone playing in your regular, publicised weekly competitions, and then subscribed membership to those wanting to take it further and have practice time, coaching, and play for a team, etc. Or have an icebreaker tournament which only freshers can enter and link it to a wider social event afterwards (which all club members can perhaps attend).
As mentioned, a dynamic society/club of mixed academic years and study subjects will help you to network market and build your membership through natural social interaction. Perhaps even hold a “Plus One” tournament or social night, where all members must introduce a completely new person to the club (perhaps with a handicap tournament format) – this will help recruitment and if you make it fun, you will retain them.
If your committee (or club) as a whole needs recruitment in a certain demographic, then target your recruitment/marketing drive appropriately to fill the gap.
It is important, however, to tailor your campaign to your target audience – although your main posters would usually need to be near to pool tables by and large, if you are trying to diversify your membership, for example you may wish to recruit more women to form a team for the UPC Women’s event, you may wish to target your marketing tools appropriately (e.g. posters in female halls of residence; hand out flyers at netball practice sessions) and promote the wider social aspects.
The section on marketing outlines further action you can take to publicise the benefits of your club and recruit more members.