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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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Essential Training for New Association Staff Members

Posted by Sarah Hill

The summer is coming, and you know what that means: interns. It could also mean some new or temporary staffers to help out with annual meeting planning, grad students seeking extra credit, or more dedicated volunteers who get half days on Fridays and therefore want to hang out and help more.

That’s great! The relief will be a welcome change from the crunch of the spring, and it’ll help get your association poised and prepared for the fall. Besides, we know you can use the help! But with new staffers and dedicated volunteers comes the challenge of onboarding and training.

How much training time do new association staffers need?

We’ll break it down in order of importance so you can get those trainings knocked out and get right to work!


They must know:


Your association’s mission

Any regular staffer, intern, or volunteer will be representing your association. They absolutely must know the mission, objectives, and who you serve without question.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but particularly when you’re dealing with students, they might not have known to do the complete research or have been hired with a misunderstanding. Make sure you clear that up on day one!


Their duties and expectations

Another good thing to put in that initial conversation is what they’ll be doing. You want to create an environment that allows for learning and creativity, but you can do that while finishing this sentence: “You will help us with _______”


What to say to the public/on social media

As a representative of your association, they will probably bump into fellow or potential members or donors at events and possibly even the press. Not to mention likely social media posts and check ins! It may seem like a silly thing at first, but make sure your new staffers know what you would prefer them to say here, or where they can redirect questions if presented with one that should go further up the totem pole.


It would be nice if they knew:


Key players

It’s always a good idea to introduce new staffers to key players in your association besides you and your staff. Chances are the networking will happen naturally, but you may need to facilitate the introduction.


Your operation’s established processes

The last thing you want to do is drill in a “Here’s how we do things around here” kind of mentality, but cluing new staffers into the present work flow will help them feel at ease in their first few weeks. Just be sure to ask for feedback once they’re settled in (and be open to suggestions!)


How to write (or at least communicate efficiently)

It’s hard to put a price on good communication. Even if their job doesn’t directly deal with it, having a great writer on staff, even if it’s only emails, will go a long way in making your association look professional.


Icing on the cake:


Industry influencers

This is an “above and beyond” step for a new staffer, as knowing industry leaders takes a lot of time and networking outside of your association.


Your job

There are days when you’re probably not even sure of what your job is and that’s why it’s so helpful to have someone else on staff who can either take some of the pressure off and give you a hand every now and then or just field questions!


Multimedia skills

In this dynamic world, people communicate verbally, by text, by photo, and by video. If your new staffer knows Photoshop or any video editing, not to mention a working knowledge of social media, he or she will be a valuable resource.


Ultimately, though, your new staffers, interns, and volunteer’s duties are super subjective to what you need them to do. There could be a specific project or perhaps they just want to learn how an association runs. Either way, take advantage of the help when you have it!


If event planning is one of those big projects, have your new staffer download our guide to event planning. It’s free, and it’ll help out a lot with this busy time!

Download our Event  Planning Guide for  Small Staff Associations

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

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