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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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[Guest Post] 8 Ways to Weave Collaboration into Your Virtual Event

Posted by Callie Walker

Weave Collaboration into Your Virtual Event

MemberClicks is thrilled to be sponsoring SURGE Optimism, a free, interactive, virtual conference hosted by AssociationSuccess.org! The following blog post was written by one of the AssociationSuccess.org team members, Lucie Robathan! 

At AssociationSuccess.org, we feel very strongly that virtual conferences are a game changer. Technological solutions for interaction and communication mean that a virtual event can stimulate a unique kind of knowledge-sharing, across a huge range and variety of minds. We host a semi-annual virtual conference called SURGE, which began as an experiment in online collaboration - and has since taken shape as a platform in which knowledge is co-created in real time, through the active contribution of the participants.

The best way to understand the special kind of collaboration made possible by technology is to experience it - and in fact, by participating in an interactive virtual event you are strengthening the experience through your own contributions. We are therefore delighted to invite you to our upcoming conference, SURGE Optimism, running on November 7th-9th. Attendance is free, and your insights could actively shape the direction of the discussion. It’s win-win, really.

Since November is still some time away, below are some top tips for making your online event a truly collaborative one - and to whet your appetite!

1. Encourage interaction immediately 

 One advantage of the online space is its accessibility. We encourage people to register for our conference as soon as possible, in order to join the discussion forum through the event page. In this online forum, they can meet other attendees, plant seeds for conversation, and position themselves as members of the SURGE community before the event has even started.

2. Promote co-creation

The structure and organization of the virtual world is ripe with co-creative potential.  We have created a series of co-writing projects running before the event itself, in which attendees can collaborate within shared online documents to ask and answer questions pertaining to particular session topics. This gives them the chance to delve deeper into themes that interest them, to learn from each other, and to possibly be featured in the e-books we compile for each session.

3. Give people a say

We run competitions in tandem with our events, and open up voting to our whole community. This year, we have launched the SURGE Innovation Pioneer Award competition, searching for the individual whose initiative and creativity is making a transformative mark on their corner of the industry. The winner will be found through a public online vote, meaning that we can elevate and celebrate innovation in the association space together. 

4. Crowdsource content

Collaboration can feature throughout the very conception of your event. We choose our session themes by listening to attendee concerns: during our last SURGE conference, we asked all the participants what organizational problem kept them up at night. The results gave us an array of issues that most mattered to our community, from which we could create meaningful session topics. We even asked them to celebrate their most valuable vendor partnerships with us, so that we can be as thoughtful as possible about how we support vendor-association relations. 

5. Stimulate discussion

Our conference sessions are pre-recorded. This means that during the event itself, the speakers are available to chat with the attendees, and to expand upon the ideas they raise in their session discussion. We have a live chat that runs simultaneously alongside the sessions, in which attendees and speakers alike can take the conversation beyond the confines of the recording, clarifying and embellishing the themes as they are raised, and preparing actionable strategies. 

6. Share resources 

It is really straightforward to share resources at a virtual event: you can have as long a list as you want, without incurring any production or distribution costs. Once you’re online, the variety of resources that are pertinent also increase – you can link to anything from websites to whitepapers, expanding the educational potential at your attendees’ fingertips.

7. Poll participants 

Online participation means instant information! We have introduced a pop-up polling functionality into our conference, which we use to ask attendees on-the-spot questions as the discussions wind to a finish. This means that attendees can see, quantitatively, how they compare to others in attendance – and that we can collect meaningful feedback.

8. Distribute knowledge

Our collaborative efforts continue after the event itself is over. We compile key speaker insights, contributions from the attendee chat, and useful resources, into e-books corresponding to each session. These e-books are distributed to all the attendees, for free, to act as a springboard and inspiration for their strategic endeavors.

The beauty of virtual collaboration is that the more minds, the merrier. Register for SURGE Optimism now for free, to join us and thousands of association professionals across the globe, and add your voice to the conversation!

Topics: event planning, member engagement, Association Views

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