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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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Competing for Top Talent: 5 Tips for Association Pros

Posted by Callie Walker

Competing for Top Talent.jpg

Working for an association can be challenging for many reasons, but one challenge that never really seems to go away (and if anything, actually seems to be getting harder) is hiring. There’s SO much competition for talent out there, especially top talent. And when large companies can offer higher salaries and more impressive benefits packages, how can nonprofits and professional organizations compete?

Well, we’d be lying if we said there was a simple solution, but fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get (and keep) all eyes on you… 

1. Salary isn’t everything. Market who you are and what benefits you can offer.

It’s so easy to get caught up in money, money, money. After all, money is THE biggest factor when evaluating a job, right?

Not necessarily. Yes, salary matters, but it’s not the only factor candidates take into consideration (and to heart). In fact, according to PNP Staffing Group’s 2018 Nonprofit Staffing Report, 56 percent of job candidates consider an organization’s mission important (when evaluating a position) and 54 percent consider culture and workplace environment important.

That’s GREAT news for nonprofits and professional organizations, whose missions are usually more compelling (and emotionally tied) than those of standard corporations.

Other factors that matter to job seekers and potential candidates: Benefits offered, organization’s prestigious reputation, and opportunities for growth/development within the organization.

Play those factors up, if you can speak to them!

2. Focus on relationship building

More times than not, interviews can be very impersonal. Question. Answer. Question. Answer.

Yes, that’s necessary to get to the know the candidate, but if you come across someone you really like, try to have more of a conversation with them. Or, if you really prefer the Q&A approach, stick to that in the office, but then invite the candidate out to coffee so you can really get to know them and build more of a relationship.

This matters because people want to work with people they like. And it’s much harder to turn down someone you have a relationship with than it is to turn down someone you’ve strictly done business with.

3. If possible, bring in the “higher-ups”

When going through the hiring process, if possible, bring in some of your senior leaders - the Executive Director, the Vice President, the President, etc. This can be surprising to candidates, but in a good way. It shows that you value them enough for the senior leaders to take the time to sit down and speak with them. And this is typically something that larger companies/corporations can’t do, so it can give your organization an edge.

4. Don’t switch things up (unless they’re positive changes) during the hiring process

No one likes to be mislead, especially when a job is on the line. Worse is when that “miscommunication” involves salary. In fact, according to PNP Staffing Group’s report, 30 percent of the time, when a candidate turns down a job, it’s because an organization reduces its salary offer during the hiring process.

This is a big, BIG no-no. Not only is less money less appealing, but it’s a red flag for the candidate that they can’t trust your organization.

Whatever you say up front, stick to (unless it’s an improvement).

5. Don’t wait too long to extend an offer

Extending an offer is one of the trickiest parts of the hiring process. How many more candidates should you speak to? What if the candidate you like is evaluating other offers? What if you wait too long and someone else scoops them up?

It’s a real possibility. According to PNP Staffing Group’s report, 20 percent of the time, an organization loses a candidate of choice because they hesitate too long to make an offer. 

This is a bit of a guessing game - and a bit of a gamble - but if you find someone you genuinely like, start negotiating sooner rather than later. (Note: This is also something large companies can’t always do. Small organizations can usually make decisions more quickly, so use that to your association’s advantage. Scoop that top talent up!)

Now let’s say you do find the perfect candidate. How can you get them up to speed quickly and make them feel comfortable enough that they'll stay long-term? Allow us to help! Check out our free guide, Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff, below!

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

Topics: association management, association leadership, Association Views

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