I recently read an interesting article about IBM’s predictions for 2014. You could probably read an article similar every day for the rest of the year and not repeat, but this one struck me as interesting for several reasons. (If you’re interested, you can read the whole thing here!)
1) Learning was at the forefront and
2) Despite what seems like an increasingly all-consuming online world, LOCAL businesses will thrive next year.
There are other big points in the article, but those were the two that most stood out. So what does this mean for your association?
Well when you think about it, both are central themes to your association. Let’s start with learning. If you asked your members, how many of them would raise their hands and say that your educational, mentoring, and learning programs were at the top of the list of why they joined? If you can see a lot, it proves my point. If not so much, maybe that’s a great goal for the New Year.
The article mentions that the reason education will be such a big deal in 2014 is because of intuitive learning. IBM VP of Innovation Bernie Meyerson suggests that classrooms will learn the student, not the other way around. That makes sense! In a world where individuality and personal strength are so much more emphasized than in years past, it would do well for educators to focus on the individual needs of their students to really optimize their lessons.
So how can your association tap into that energy? So often the issue isn’t a lack of learning programs, but just falling short of members’ expectations and needs. Short of asking everyone or passing out a survey, the best thing you can do to fine-tune your education programs is to keep super current on what’s going on in the industry which your association represents. It doesn’t hurt to subscribe to magazines, both print and digital, as well as online newsletters.
Another good idea is so get to know some upper level managers in relevant local businesses. They’ll know what they’re not seeing in interviews, where their current employees might have a gap in knowledge, and where they see the future of their company going. That’s a win-win situation: you can offer educational programs that will really benefit your members in their daily lives and you’ll be answering a problem of a manager who is bound to become an association advocate if he or she knows that employees being a member of your association will positively impact his bottom line.
Now let’s focus on the other half of 2014: the local. Even if you represent a national group, chances are it’s a smaller, specific community. The article refers to local businesses as being poised for thriving in 2014, so why couldn’t you leverage that same energy for your associations?
The article’s author, Dean Takahashi, mentions that many local businesses have gone under this past year due to the cheaper prices and conveniences of online retailers. Sure, connections, growth, and job opportunity can all be found online, but is that preferable to the real thing that your association offers? Furthermore, Takahashi mentions that while most of the interaction starts online (in this case, retail, but in your case, information and networking) it ultimately leads to offline success.
The bottom line there: make your online presence awesome, and your offline presence dazzling.
But above all, remember that predictions and advice aside it's really about what works for your specific association and nobody can answer that but you and your members!
Need some help with that dazzling online to offline presence, or planning and hosting learning events? An AMS could be the answer!