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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 Ways to Make Your Next Event Pop

Posted by Sarah Hill

Your first event of 2015 needs to really sing. It needs to pop. It needs to amaze and bewilder. Okay maybe bewilder was a little over the top, but you catch my drift. Get the year started off right, on an amazing note, when members are looking to up their annual networking and professional efforts. The energy is there, so grab it!

So how can you make your next event something that will really stand out before, during, and after the event ends? Here are four tips that will make 2015 start off to be the best year yet for your association.


1)   Pick an amazing speaker

And by amazing, we don’t necessarily mean expensive, famous, or tough to book. We mean someone with that certain something. Even a mediocre speaker can catch an audience if the story is great. Strangely enough, YouTube may be a good place to start. Look up topics that would interest your members and see which presentations you sit all the way through. Or if your speaker isn’t a main event, ask around, research, or figure out a really great interactive event or game.

2)   Try a new venue

Are there any cool new spaces opening up in your area? What about more fun places off the beaten path that your members would enjoy like the batting cages or even a movie? Think outside the box. The venue can really make an event memorable. Just don’t forget essential things when trying new venues like parking, cost, and food.

3)   Take a different approach to networking

Everyone is familiar with the usual routine: arrive, have finger foods and mingle, settle in and listen to the speaker, and then hang out for a few minutes after the event is over. The problem with that routine (besides the fact that it’s a “routine”) is that when you limit mingling before and after a speaker you lose a lot. People arrive late and must leave early, or they just don’t see the value in arriving early and staying late because it seems like the speaker is the main event and the networking is secondary. We both know that’s not the case, though, and networking has as much of a value, if not more, than a speaker. So mix it up! Try to incorporate networking at different places in the event or in a different way besides just eating and making small talk.

4)   Keep the memories going after it’s over

Post pictures to your social media and your AMS. Remind members to solidify those relationships by getting in touch, and remind them how they can use your AMS to access contact information for fellow members. Follow up with new members or interested professionals who attended your event. Above all, leave everyone feeling positive and ready to come back for more! 

Need some help planning your event? Download our free guide to event planning! Just click below and get the ball rolling!

Download our Event  Planning Guide for  Small Staff Associations

Topics: association leadership, event planning, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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