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Connect 2 Clubs Directory Helps Clubs Get Noticed

Aug 9

Written by:
8/9/2011 9:47 AM  RssIcon

Joining a club has helped many members realize what is possible with their particular interest, learn more about it, and make new friends with similar interests. In fact, for many, membership in the club is as important the hobby itself. So, it makes sense for someone that is new to a particular hobby or interest to find and at least meet up with their local like-minded club or association.

But trying to find the clubs can sometimes be a hassle. 

There are many online club directories, but based on what we’ve observed, often visitors go away frustrated and disappointed - many club lists have as many broken links and bad contacts as they have good ones!

So, in May, 2011, we took the plunge and started a list of known clubs called Connect 2 Clubs Directory (www.connect2clubsdirectory.com).  I use the word "known" because we wanted to filter out clubs that have dissolved, clubs that never were, and clubs for whom the contact information is no longer valid.

While we were attempting to confirm even the "known" good sites, we could not help but notice that, to an "outsider," clubs with functional web sites had many advantages over clubs that didn't - even if the web site wasn't "state of the art." A single web page that shows club contact information, meeting times, photos of club events and the like makes the club "real" to viewers. Clubs that only have a phone number or e-mail contact information seem like an "unknown," especially when that email contact is a defunct email address.

Personally I’ve never minded calling or e-mailing folks I've never met and asking them for information. But, what about the people that find the whole idea of joining or even contacting a club a little "daunting"? 

We realize that not every club has an internet-savvy member to put together an online presence for the club, but even if you have to go to an outside source for help, it’s well worth the investment.

A Club Web Site Improves Internal Communication

Outreach aside, a functioning club web site helps the club to be more functional and improves member participation in many ways. It:

•  Helps people in geographically widespread clubs keep in touch and feel like they're part of it all. Some of the clubs we work with have "members" from 50 to 200 miles away, with others being national and international associations. If members can't attend more than a meeting or two a year, the web site keeps them updated on what's going on, and helps them feel like they're still involved in the club's direction and future.

•  Keeps computer-savvy (usually younger) members involved - Some clubs' founding members feel that, since none of them use a computer, why should they bother to accommodate folks who do? The answer is that if the club wants to keep the next generation involved, the club needs to communicate in methods to which they are accustomed. Newspapers, churches, workplaces, even other similar clubs use web technology to keep folks "engaged" with their organizations. The clubs that are growing and are passing the hobby or interest to the next generation realize the importance of the web. ‘Nuf said.
•  Protects officers' privacy - At the same time, having a web site means that you can use e-mail addresses like clubpresident@yourclubname.com rather than posting the contact's personal e-mail address. When the officers change, the club's webmaster can just redirect incoming e-mail to the new officers. It’s also a good idea to encrypt that email address on the website to deter the automatic email harvesters from collecting the addresses for spamming purposes.
•  Helps members from being confused about dates and times of meeting and events.  Club web sites help keep busy members on track, so they don't have to carry their newsletter or club calendar with them everywhere they go.
•  Provides an archive for club newsletters, documents and other information that otherwise could get lost.
•  Helps members share ideas and accomplishments - "galleries" of member accomplishments or events help people learn about each others interests; "how-to" articles help people learn from each other.
•  Provides 2-way communications, including sign-up sheets for club projects and events, or even a members-only forum.

A Club Web Site Grows the Club

Even more important than the internal benefits are the ways the club can attract newcomers who would be hesitant to make just a phone or e-mail contact, to a club that they knew little or nothing about.

Meeting schedules and local events calendars build confidence that you have a legitimate organization and aren't just three guys sitting around "drinking beer and shooting the bull."  Also, having multiple contacts on your contact page reduces the likelihood that the contact information found on your website is obsolete.
Promoting outreach activities and events helps folks know when and where they might grasp the opportunity to stop by and see the club in action without felling like they have to make a commitment.  For some people, dropping in on a club is like "church shopping" or "meeting the folks."

Providing "how-to" articles and photos of members helps potential members see the rewards of the hobby and also realize that there are some folks in the club who might help them figure things out.
Maintaining a consistent, quality "presence" helps people on the "fringes" feel like they're still (or at least could be) a part of your "community.”  A web site extends your "community" far beyond the audience you think you're reaching. The more people who have a favorable idea of your club and of the hobby in general, the more likely you are to keep growing the club and growing the hobby, as a whole.

All in all, a club web site can promote not only the club, but the hobby or interest that it represents.  A club website helps to provide a sense of community even for members whose distance or life situation keeps them from participating in many activities.

Our goal is to not only connect clubs, and share their contact and event information through the Directory, but to provide each group a robust, exciting, affordable web presence to keep them growing and thriving.   

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