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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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4 Holiday Networking Ideas for Your Small-Staff Association

Posted by Callie Walker

Holiday Networking.jpg

According to Marketing General Incorporated’s 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, the most common reason association executives believe members join associations is to network with others in their respective field.

Now you may offer networking opportunities throughout the year, but there’s something special about the holidays - something that makes people want to engage and chit-chat with others.

Want one final boost of engagement in 2016? Check out some of these holiday networking ideas!

1. A Thanksgiving potluck

Ah yes, a classic. What better way to bring people together than a whole FEAST of food?! Potlucks are easy because they allow you to divvy up the work. You’ll probably need to provide the basics (plates, silverware, napkins, drinks, etc.) and the main course (e.g. the turkey or the ham), but aside from that, your members can provide the rest. It’s a great way to bring people together, and since a full meal is involved, it makes networking a little less awkward.

2. A holiday shindig

This can be executed in a number of ways, but the point here, again, is to just bring people together. You can organize a formal holiday event or keep it casual, complete with reindeer ears and tacky sweaters.

Another thought: Consider incorporating a theme. Last year, MemberClicks hosted a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” party. We turned our office into a mini-Whoville and even had some Grinch-themed food!

Whoville.jpg Grinch Cookies.jpg

3. A white elephant gift exchange

Now this may or may not work depending on the size of your membership, but if you have a fairly small membership - one in which this is feasible - I highly recommend giving it a shot. See, white elephant parties are great because they take the pressure off traditional networking. Your members can break the ice with each other by asking what other people got and showcasing their own gifts. And since most of the gifts will likely be funny, it’s a great way to break the tension.

(Note: This event doesn’t have to be expensive. You can cap the gift amounts at $10, if you’d like.)

4. A “Farewell to 2016” party

Your association probably accomplished a lot in 2016. Why not celebrate those accomplishments with your members at a “Farewell to 2016” party? Hey, your members probably accomplished a lot too. All the more reason to celebrate together!

Now don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be anything extravagant (although it can be, if you’d like). But even something as simple as drinks and h'orderves at a local bar or restaurant can be a great way to get members talking.  

If you’re thinking of hosting a holiday networking event, now is the time to get started. Need help planning your next event? Check out our free guide, 8 Steps to Event Planning Success, below!

8 Steps to Event Planning Success  A step-by-step guide to planning the perfect event Download this guide

Topics: association management, association leadership, small staff association, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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