08 January 2008

Professionelle Hits 1000 Registered Members!

By Sarah Wilshaw-Sparkes

Just after our last update, in mid July, we hit our 1000th member. Some of you might have seen my announcement of this milestone on our blog page, complete with a couple of balloons!

This magic number had been our stake in the ground for membership at the end of our first year. Galia and I are both chuffed at this achievement. It means we have added members at the rate of almost exactly two a day and have signed up about eight percent of the target market we had identified as professional and corporate women in NZ when we set Professionelle up.

It also means I have an excuse to play around with pivot tables again to look at the profile of our members...

The last time I wrote up an analysis on our membership was around Christmas, when we had been going for nine months. Back then, I looked at our 700th member and compared her to the norms in our membership. This time I thought I'd see if our member profile has changed as we have gone from 500 to 1000 members. In the text below, the numbers in brackets relate to the member profile at 500 members.

The 'average' Professionelle member: who is she?

You won't be surprised to hear that our members remain almost entirely female at 98% (97%). Since the 500 mark we have become even more New Zealand-centric with 94% (91%) of members living down here. Greater Auckland is still home to 60% (61%) of members but a noticeable difference which we are really proud of is that we have picked up members in many more locations outside the main centres: Kaitaia, Dargaville, Pirongia, Putaruru,Taupo, Te Puke, Waipukurau, Wanganui, Stratford, Levin, Bulls, Masterton and Rangiora. Galia's appearance on the TV One Special Report in April had a lot to do with that. Given we are an online community, this is exactly what we envisaged building: a safe environment for professional women throughout New Zealand to share their experiences.

Agewise, the largest group in Professionelle are those in their thirties who make up 43% (43%), followed by another 26% (26%) in their forties.

You are all extremly well qualified, with nearly three quarters holding a tertiary qualification. Exactly a third of you (33%) hold post graduate degrees and another 39% (40%) Bachelor equivalents. Of course, this means we have to make sure we keep up our act as yoursquo;re sure to let us know if we don't!

Full time employment remains the most common work arrangement at 60% (62%). Taken together with part time work, 70% (70%) are in what could be termed "conventional or traditional" work arrangements. A further quarter (26%) are self employed, contractors and in their own businesses, leaving 5% (4%) reporting as other, retired or unemployed.

Unsurprisingly, and consistent with our assumptions when we set Professionelle up, the mix of these employment types changes markedly as women reach the age of having children. This is ever later in New Zealand, with the median age now around 28. The exhibit below shows how the conventional employement of full and part time work drops sharply through the thirties age group. This pattern was much the same when we had 500 members.

Employment Type by Age Group Cohort for Professionelle Members


A consistent mix!

By now, an obvious pattern has emerged: the profile is remarkably constant despite doubling the number of members! This is not because we represent the NZ average. Far from it. Taking education as just one example,

Only 4.5% of the female population in this country have post grad degrees, while 11% hold Bachelor's, compared to our 33% and 39%. Professionelle seems to appeal to a very consistent subset of working women in New Zealand. These are women who are highly educated Kiwi urbanites, and well-advanced in their careers.

What do Professionelle members do?

The most diverse aspect of our membership lies in the jobs held. The 1000 members span about 200 (100) different job descriptions. We are really excited by this as it implies we appeal to women with a wide range of professional interests. Nevertheless, there are several sizeable occupation groups within our membership:

  • sales, marketing and advertising roles account for 14% (16%)
  • finance and accounting 11% (10%)
  • the legal profession 10% (10%)
  • HR excluding recruitment 9% (8%)
  • General Managers and CEOs 7% (6%).

Outside these groups we have several flavours of consultants and of coaches. Less common roles include a veterinary pathologist, a technical manager in meat processing, a criminology researcher and a ceramic artist. If I ever need to research a particular job for a novel or short story, I'm sure I could find it among our members..!

How did our members find us?

When we set Professionelle up we decided that because of who we were targeting (you!) we wanted to 'earn' your membership through providing intelligent, thoughtful and relevant content on our site and to the media. Readers may be unaware that we have never advertised. We have instead written articles for the business press, spoken at networking meetings, gained mention in others' newsletters, intranets and websites, and regularly updated this site, which has done wonders for our Google indexing. And of course, we kicked it all off by telling friends and family about Professionelle, and they passed it on. So have many of our members, most of them women we have never met.

Referrals remain the most largest source for Professionelle in gaining new members.

Reflecting the power of word of mouth recommendations, the sources that brought members to us break down as follows::

  • referrals 49% (54%)
  • media mentions 26% (25%)
  • internet searches 14% (9%)
  • others' networks 12% (12%)

Professionelle is a self-selecting community and we do not turn any bona fide members away. (We do ignore the applications from dubious Russian websites that we strongly suspect want to sell us little blue pills). This makes the consistency in the profile of our members all the more noteworthy. We believe it has a lot to do with staying true to our promise of delivering in-depth and values-based content and services. This is what you tell us you appreciate and what you tell others about. And we'd like to thank all of you who've taken the time to refer us to others!

Will we look the same when we hit 2000? We'll let you know!

© Professionelle Ltd 2008

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