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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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Five Ways to Avoid the One Hit Wonder Event

Posted by Sarah Hill


Every club and association leader has that one event that they can look back to and pat themselves on the back and say, “That event was awesome!”

Sadly, for many associations, they’re unable to reach that level twice. That’s not to say that events that followed weren’t successful, but they just didn’t have that special something that really left everyone buzzing. (...And tweeting, and facebooking, and instagramming...)

So how do you avoid the dreaded “one hit wonder” events? Here are five helpful tips to keep in mind!

  • Even if you can’t duplicate the magic, note what works

This is probably your first step. Really think back to that amazing event. What were some of the comments you heard in the crowd? What type of event was it? Think back to the basic mechanics: location, time, day of the week, even season. Was it near a holiday? Were the kids in school? Was it near a major change in your association’s industry? Was your attendance at this event particularly high? If so, was was the pre-event marketing like? If the attendance was lower, how did that come into play for creating the perfect environment? If it was a recent event, perhaps it might be worth your time to ask some members or fellow association leaders their thoughts.

  • Engage attendees and get them excited about your association

At your next event, make a conscious effort to work the crowd a little and have other knowledgable members and leaders do the same. The personal touch really does go a long way, and in some events, maybe even your hit event, there was probably a lot of friendly interaction. Since the chemistry of the crowd is almost impossible to duplicate from event to event, you might have to be the heavy when it comes to mingling. Have a few conversation starters in the back of your mind but be sure to make introductions and bring other people into the conversation as well!

  • Gather contact information and make connections (and encourage members to do the same!)

The next step in successful business mingling is business networking. Get cards, make notes, and follow up. Encourage other members to do the same. That way The high points of the event can live a little longer and those connections can really solidify at the event or even on social media or outside connections.

  • Have a calendar ready for the next several months

When someone walks away from a fabulous event the natural next thought is, “That was great! When’s the next one?” Have an answer prepared! Even if your calendar isn’t 100% fleshed out for the next several months, at least have a topic, date, time, and location in mind. Sometimes speakers or presenters come together at the last minute, but the time to get your event attendees to pull out their planners to jot down the next event is NOW.

  • Plan a variety of events

Another important thing to remember is that even if your event was just a home run, if you do the same event over and over and over people are going to get bored with it, no matter how great it was the first few times. Associations can’t be one-trick ponies when it comes to events. Even if you have a legendary annual event that everyone looks forward to and loves, it can’t be the same every year or it could be missable. Keep it fresh! Mix it up! Try new things!

Event planning is tough, but we can help! Click below to download our free guide to event planning. If you have a question about event planning, we probably answered it here. If we haven’t addressed your particular concern, leave a comment here and let us know!

Download our Event  Planning Guide for  Small Staff Associations

Topics: event planning, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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