Best practices when a new member joins your forum

When a new member joins your forum, you are eager to have it go smoothly for both new and veteran members.  Consider following as many of these practices as you can:

  • Before the new member attends his or her first regular meeting, have a couple veteran members meet the new member for coffee. This provides a chance to review the forum’s typical agenda, meeting schedule, and other norms, and answer any questions.  If in-person isn’t possible, schedule a phone call, fold these points into the first meeting, or set a follow-up before the second meeting.
  • Begin the first meeting by asking each member, new and old, to commit or recommit to forum confidentiality.
  • Substitute an integration exercises for one of your usual presentation slots.   This might be “Lifeline,” “If you really knew me…” or other new or previously used exercises.
  • Plan on the new member participating in updates just like everyone else.  Veteran members can model the process.
  • Encourage the new member to present relatively early in their membership, not necessarily at the first meeting, but don’t wait six months.
  • Assign a “buddy” to the new member to meet for coffee or a meal before the second meeting.

Bob Halperin

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