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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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Grouping Your Members Generationally

Posted by Sarah Hill

I recently saw an article in Bloomberg Businessweek that detailed an Ad Agency’s decision to group their office seating chart generationally, putting all the Millennials together. The logic is that

the generation born between 1980-2000 is the first generation to know the internet. It’s a tool Millennials are inherently good at, the theory says.


It got me thinking: how would it work for associations to divvy up members by generation? Many larger associations already do with smaller committees or special interest groups. What are the pros and cons of segregating members in that fashion?

The Pros:

  • Members are more likely to connect with someone sooner.

There will be immediate similarities with members of the same general age. That means members are more likely to bond, network, and even form friendships.

  • Easier to plan events for each group

Interests in speakers and programming and even schedules may sync up better when you consider members by generation. It could just make event planning a slam dunk.

  • Less intimidating environment for leaders to emerge

It’s easier to be a “big fish in a small pond” than attempt to join other big fish in a larger pond. A smaller group of peers can be a much less intimidating environment from which a new leader may emerge!

The Cons:

  • Members may miss out of mentorship relationships

Although it’s not always the case, more seasoned professionals tend to be in higher ranking positions and younger professionals often are looking for opportunity. A valuable opportunity may be missed by keeping the generations apart.

  • Managers are limited in their recruiting strategies.

You must consider that while younger professionals may be looking for their next job within your association, managers may be looking for their next new hires as well. Don’t deprive either!

  • Members may feel “punished” or unfairly grouped

Keep in mind that grouping members requires some judgment on your part. Avoid this entirely by allowing members to choose their own groups or abstaining from the grouping altogether.

Leave it up to your members! If there is a stirring of desire for an up-and-comers or seasoned professionals group, be open minded and optimistic. Offer your help and support when it comes to organizing meetings and events. Be sure to ask what types of resources the group will need and how they may see the future of the group working on the board and within your association as a whole.

For more about member engagement, download and read our handy guide! It’s free and it’s all yours by clicking below.

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Topics: member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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