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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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Adapting Your Association (and its Members) to Industry Changes

Posted by Colleen Bottorff

green chameleon looks sideways and he hides himself camouflaged in the thick vegetation of branches and plants

Does your association struggle to keep up with constant changes in your industry? It can be difficult for staff to navigate themselves, let alone to help keep members up-to-date!

Every industry is different, but if yours is particularly prone to change then you may want to have some things in place to ease any transitions. We thought of a few ways your association can keep itself and its members on course through change:


Seek flexibility
Having staff members who can quickly pivot when necessary is paramount to keeping up with industry changes. When you interview candidates, try asking questions that will help you gauge their ability to learn quickly, work with others, and approach the unknown. For example:

  • How do you adjust to changes you have no control over?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’re facing when starting a new job?
  • Describe a time you were assigned new tasks. How did you adapt?

Look for answers that indicate they’re open-minded, positive, and confident when it comes to change.

Make research a priority
You don’t want to be blindsided! Set aside some time each week to read up on industry publications, looking for any indication that a change may be coming. If you do notice anything, you’ll be able to keep an eye on it and prepare yourself, your team, your organization, and your members as it develops.

Create a committee
Depending on your industry, you may even start a committee whose sole responsibility is adaptation. They could be responsible for the research and preparation, including creating any materials and/or hosting meetings to help keep staff and members informed.

Tip: The committee doesn’t have to exist forever - consider creating a short-term committee for any monumental changes.


Keep a relevant blog
Whether on your regular blog or a separate blog, make sure you keep members updated on industry changes that are underway or could be coming. Use the blog as a place to provide any tools and resources they can take advantage of that would make any transitions easier.

Host meetings or webinars
If a big change that warrants more attention comes along, host a meeting (or webinar, to make it more accessible) and talk it over with members. This would be a great forum to answer some questions and provide guidance on how to approach the change in a proactive way.

One-on-one guidance
Some things simply need some extra hand-holding. Offer to schedule one-on-one time with members to talk through changes that are a little more relevant or earth-shattering. They may have specific needs that require a little more consideration than what you’d send to a large group. A responsibility for your new committee, perhaps?

The unknown can be uncomfortable, but just remember that change doesn’t have to be scary! The important thing is to keep your - and your fellow association staffs’ - head on straight. Adaptation policies and training could even become a part of your onboarding process! For more on getting new staff up to speed, take a look at our guide: Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff.

Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff  How to get your new staff members up to speed! Download this guide

Topics: association leadership, Association Views

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