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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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3 Bad Habits All Association Pros Need to Ditch ASAP

Posted by Callie Walker

Bad Habits to Break ASAP

Bad habits. We all have them, and for the most part, we all struggle to break them.

But the first step in breaking a habit is to identify what it is. Here are three bad habits that we think all association pros need to ditch ASAP:

Bad habit #1: Getting too comfortable

This is a hard one (but hey, aren’t all habits?) because who doesn’t like being comfortable? It’s a state we aspire to be in. But getting comfortable is bad for two reasons:

  1. It prevents you from growing professionally. To grow, you have to challenge yourself, and “challenge” and “comfort” typically don’t go hand-in-hand.

  2. It prevents your organization from evolving with the times. Regardless of what industry you work in, change is inevitable. (Think demographic shifts.) And to stay relevant, you have to be proactive, not reactive, and that means going outside of your comfort zone.

Now we’re not suggesting you abandon everything you currently do. If you’ve been working in the industry or at your organization for a while, you know what works. But do push yourself. With every task you tackle, attempt to try something new, whether it’s trying out a playful subject line in an email or switching up the formats of your educational breakout sessions. (Moving from 60-minute sessions to 40-minute sessions, for example.)

Sure, some things will flop, but you will learn and you will grow, and both you and your organization will be better for that.

Bad habit #2: Not leveraging your network

As association professionals, you have a pretty large network of contacts: other association professionals, vendors in your industry, your organization’s membership, even! But are you fully leveraging those contacts? Are you regularly asking for input and suggestions? Chances are, not as much as you could be.

Make a sincere effort to better leverage your network in 2019. Ask your members for input and feedback via a variety of surveys throughout the year. Talk to other association professionals via online forums to see what they’re doing and what they’ve done. (The Association Chat Facebook group and the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) online member community, Collaborate, are two great places to engage with other association professionals.) And leverage your personal LinkedIn account, too! Connect with others, join industry-related groups, and ask questions if you need help.

Connections are powerful! You know that. It’s one of your organization’s major value propositions. Just be sure to leverage yours.

Questions you may want to ask your network:

  • What keynote speakers have you been impressed with in the past?

  • What’s one new thing you’ve tried out at your meetings/conferences that’s worked out really well for you?

  • Do you have any recommendations regarding an association management system?

  • [To your members] What topics would you like to learn more about in 2019?

Use that feedback to steer your organizational decisions. Or at the very least, to learn more about your members and the association space.

Bad habit #3: Brushing off your successes

Too often, when something good happens - when we achieve something - we celebrate momentarily, but then quickly brush that off. We immediately jump to “what’s next?” On the flip side, though, when something bad happens - when we don’t achieve our goals - we dwell on that for days, weeks, and sometimes even months.

Talk about a bad habit.

This is one you need to break, not only for your own personal happiness, but for your members’ happiness as well. When you achieve something, either individually or organizationally, make it a point to celebrate that! If it’s an organizational achievement, post about it on social media or write a blurb about it in your newsletter. Get your members excited and keep that momentum going. If it’s an individual achievement, share that good news with your coworkers or treat yourself to lunch.

You work hard towards your goals, and you deserve to celebrate any and all wins!

Speaking of goals, what are your organizational goals for 2019? To grow your organization’s membership? To increase attendance at your annual conference? To recruit - and retain - more young professional members?

Regardless of what your goals are, allow us to help. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management, where we dive into best practices for membership recruitment, engagement, retention, and more!

The Ultimate Guide to Membership Management  Everything you need to know about managing your membership online, from  acquisition to engagement to retention. Download this guide

Topics: Small Staff Chatter

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