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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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Convincing Your Boss It Was Their Idea You Attend That Conference

Posted by Colleen Bottorff

Convincing your boss to send you to that conference

Unfortunately, the choice to go to a work-related conference or event is often out of our hands. Your boss (or even their boss) is usually the one that has to decide if registration and travel costs - plus your time out of the office - are worth what you’ll get out of attending.

And sometimes, that person isn’t close enough to your daily tasks and challenges to see how the event would be incredibly beneficial. When an event pops up that you know would make your life easier (like, oh, say, MC LIVE!, our very own tech conference for associations, chambers and nonprofits), it can be difficult to communicate those benefits to someone who also has a budget to protect. Difficult, but certainly not impossible! After all, they’ve likely been in your shoes before.

Start by gathering all of the relevant information before approaching your boss. Here are a few things to include in your proposal:

The basic details

Of course, but let’s dig just a little deeper. Identify and estimate the following:

  • Who is putting on the event?
  • What is its purpose?
  • When is it, and does that conflict with any other events or activities?
  • Where is it, and what are your estimated travel costs?
  • Is it a multi-day event? Be sure to include estimated lodging costs as well.

What can you expect to do and see?

Familiarize yourself with the agenda and speakers, or the type of speakers this event usually brings if that information isn’t all available quite yet. This will give your boss a better understanding of exactly how you’ll be spending your time away from the office; sharing information about the sessions and speakers will help validate the expertise you would be learning from.

For larger events with multiple sessions happening at once, create a sample agenda of the specific sessions you would like to attend. This will show you’ve been thoughtful and are committed to getting the most relevant information out of the event.

And if networking is a highlight of the event, be sure to say so! Get your boss involved by asking who you should try to meet and develop a relationship with.

How will your attendance benefit the organization as a whole?

Since you’ll be spending company money and time away from the office, it’s important you can explain how attending will be beneficial to your fellow staff and your members (on top of what you’ll get out of it, personally).

Explain how attending will...

  • Strengthen and/or advance organization goals and initiatives
  • Help you acquire more members and provide more value to existing ones
  • Grow your shared network of member-based organization professionals (for partnerships, advice, recruiting and more)
  • Improve the way your organization uses various tools and processes
  • Contribute to your own professional growth (because that’s important, too!!)

A few other things to consider

Think about writing a formal letter that includes the above information. Going that extra mile demonstrates the thoughtfulness of your request, that you’re serious about the opportunity, and that you aren’t taking the cost (both in time and money) lightly.

Be sure to also evaluate your timing. Know what is on your boss’ plate before you bring it up. You want to ensure they are in a place to be receptive!

And finally, follow up after the event to tell them your takeaways. You could even present your findings formally by host a workshop with your entire team to discuss, using them to write a blog post or just writing up a report. Whatever you do, tell others about the experience! Knowledge is power – the more well informed your association staff is, the better off you’ll all be.

Ready to give it a shot? Early Bird pricing for MC LIVE! ends in 11 days, 15 hours, and 59 minutes as of this blog being published!! That’s soon, but still plenty of time to put together a compelling proposal and get the go-ahead from your manager. We put together some tips and a letter template to help you get that approval - check it out!

Topics: MC Insider, conference

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