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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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How to Choose Between Staff for Professional Development Events

Posted by Krissy Conant


Unfortunately, not every member of your staff can be out all of the time at professional development events (as much as they may wish to be) due to budget constraints and workload. However, you also want to make sure that you’re rotating your staff so that everyone gets to attend at some point.

Then how do you begin to decide who goes and who stays? Check out these three factors we think will help narrow down the best staff fit for the next professional development conference on your radar!

1. The Event Logistics

Before you can decide which staff member might be the best fit for attending, you should first take a look at the logistics of the event to see what factors you’re working with. This includes:

  • Location: Is this event remote or in person?
  • Time: Is this event one hour, a half day, a full three days, etc?
  • Cost: What is the total cost of this event (plus travel / hotel costs if necessary)?

All of these event logistics should help you uncover if your education budget can afford to include this event for one or more employees as well as consider whose work schedule has the flexibility to allocate time toward this educational event.

2.  Your Association’s Goals

Once you uncover whether this event will work for your budget, it’s time to see if this event will help a staff member with professional development in their area of expertise or help fill in the knowledge gaps that your organization is experiencing. You may want to reflect back on your big picture goals and think on what your association is prioritizing for this year’s initiatives.

If you’re still unclear on your weak spots, consider reviewing feedback you’ve received from existing members and current employees. Then compare these needs to your departments to see if there is an overlap. Consider the following:

  • Finance (ex: Gaining more non-dues revenue)
  • Event & Membership (ex: Gathering more event interest)
  • Communication (ex: Providing appealing downloadable content)
  • Operations (ex: Outlining clear communication channels)

3. The Event Opportunities

By this point, you should hopefully feel like you’ve narrowed down some of your staff options on who is going to be the best fit. That said, you may want to take a closer look at the event agenda to make sure the opportunity cost will be worth your employee’s time out.

Some factors to review include:

  • Speakers: Do they have a proven track record of strong sessions?
  • Networking: Will you be able to brainstorm and mingle with your industry?
  • Topic Tracks: Will they be covering areas you need to focus on?

Ready or not, conference season is here! But don't panic. No matter how big the conference you're attending is, we've got a guide to help you get through it. Check out our 2018 Conference Survival Guide to see how you can rock the next conference your attending!

Your 2019 Conference Survival Guide  How to maximize your conference experience Download this guide

Topics: association leadership, small staff association, Small Staff Chatter, culture, chambers

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