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Unique Swag Ideas

11 Unique Swag Ideas for Your Association's Next Trade Show

With every conference or trade show comes the topic of event swag. What should we give out? What’s fun and unique? What’s AFFORDABLE?

Sure, there are the tried-and-true items: t-shirts, water bottles, koozies, phone chargers, etc. (And don’t get us wrong - those are all great!) But we wanted to put together a list of fresh ideas; items your attendees may not come across quite as often.

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5 Parenting Skills that Translate into Association Leadership

Posted by Sarah Hill

Although many association leaders out there love their jobs, rarely did they dream of running an association when they were little kids. Many started their career in a separate arena entirely, in fact! So how do you come from a different field or area of study and have the skills to be an association leader? Well, like any job there’s always a lot to learn. But some of the skills you mastered in your home life already translate very nicely!

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Here are a few: 

1)   Throwing a great party

When you were in college or a young adult, was your house always the place to be? Did you always have the best music, the most delicious food, and the most fun events? As an adult, do your kids have the best birthday parties that all their friends love coming to? Those skills will be incredibly useful as an association pro. While you (probably) won’t be setting up pinatas for your association events, you will be tasked with making sure everyone has a good time. Your association needs to have the “can’t miss” events. Consider drawing some parallels between your private home and family events and the programming you put on for your members. You’ll be surprised how much they overlap!

2)   Being an awesome gift-giver

If yours is always the wrapped gift that’s first grabbed at any birthday party or holidays, you’ll do well as an association leader. In this case it’s less about the material object and more about your instinct to really delight people. In case you didn’t know, delighted people are terrific advocates for your association. Besides making your members happy and inspiring them to bring their friends and colleagues, you’re setting a great precedent for future leaders.  Ask yourself: what gift can I really give my members? How about my board? If you think of a material object, conclude what problems that object will solve. That’s how you delight your members!

3)   The ability to teach

If you have kids you know that feeling bewildered as a teacher happens regularly. Here’s a secret: the best teachers feel confused and overwhelmed sometimes. Often, even. That’s because they realize they must customize the message to be received by all kids and people on order for them to really learn it. Education is a huge part of many association. Instead of kids, the messages are for the members and the public in the community the association serves. Your teaching abilities, even if it’s just walking your kids through their ABCs, will shine through in your association leadership role in ways you’ll never expect.

4)   Being incredibly organized

If you hold down a household budget, write shopping lists, and are able to find an item of clothing in one trip you’re already more organized than most. Organizing your thoughts is a big task for association leaders. Rarely do they have someone hanging over them, telling them what to do next. Association leaders must take a handful of specific tasks, prioritize them and execute them properly in the right order. Start with a to-do list if you don’t have one already. You’ll be surprised how naturally your organization skills at home translate into tidy association leadership.

5)   Handling the little problems well

If you have kids you have a lot of “little problems” that seem like huge problems to them. Now, your association will encounter much bigger problems than misplaced schoolbooks of course, but what we’re really worried about here is volume. Do you put out a hundred little “fires” before your kids get on the school bus every morning? Then the smaller problems that pop up from time to time in association leadership won’t scare you off. Many people don’t realize that as an association leader, especially a small staff association leader, there’s always something. Does that sound familiar to you?

Small staff association leaders, and certainly parents, are all master jugglers and the experts of a million small tasks. It can get overwhelming, but you wouldn’t trade it for the world! There are many more skills out there that both parents and association leaders have to hone in. What skills do you find translate well between association leadership and your home life? Leave a comment below!

You’re a rock star, but even rock stars need some help every now and then. An AMS might be the right solution for you! An all-in-one platform will make all that organizing, problem solving, and event planning that much easier. Click below to download our free guide to shopping for an AMS!

Download our guide to Picking An AMS

Topics: association management, association leadership, event planning, Small Staff Chatter

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