You have a great case for going to annual meetings and conferences as an association executive, but why stop there? Your other association leaders and members should go too!
1) Unparalleled networking
Everyone, from leaders, board members, to new members can benefit from the networking that goes on at annual meetings and conferences. You just meet cool people who have similar interests.
2) Ideas for every available role
While all that networking is going on, conversations naturally happen. You get to hear what other chapters or associations are doing with their budgeting, membership programs, dues, marketing, etc. Everyone will be able to benefit from these new ideas, or at least collect some great ideas to bring home.
3) It spurs enthusiasm
Here’s an example from my personal life: I run half marathons, but like every runner I get disengaged and fall out of the running routine periodically. Going to the expos related to the various races I run jazzes me up for future running endeavors… like just putting my shoes on. Participating in association events is a lot less physically taxing than running, and seeing the enthusiasm from members of other groups often goes a long way in reengagement.
4) Everyone is empowered to share ideas
No offense, I’m sure you’re a fantastic speaker, but think about how boring it could be for your members to hear you report on all that you learned and how much fun you had at the latest conference. Sharing the attendance gives the idea sharing a new voice, which could go a long way in distributing those great lessons among your members who stayed home.
5) They’re a fun, “on task” brain break
They’re definitely hard work, but attending conferences and meetings is still definitely FUN. Dinners, glad-handing, and seminars may sound like a nightmare to some people, but for many more it is a nice brain break and a fun way to make association life fun. Not to mention a change of scenery does wonders to break the routine!
We know the reasons why you don’t send everyone to conferences and annual meetings: budget limitations. Between the fees, travel, and hotel rooms you probably have to be pretty conservative with the number of large events you attend. But how about rotating? You go to the biggest one, and then approach invested, high quality members and fellow leaders and ask them to take your place at smaller ones? They could appreciate the chance to get out of the office, and a unique perspective could bring unexpected benefits and you have one less thing on your already loaded plate.