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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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MC Talks to Association Leaders: Adrienne Bryant, CAE

Posted by Lindsay Wilson

Adrienne Bryant, CAE is being spotlighted today on MC Talks and I couldn’t be more excited. She shares some great tips on social media you don’t want to miss out on, plus you’ll get some insight into who she is. She loves finding new and innovative ways to help staff, members, volunteer leaders, and herself work smarter not harder, more efficiently and more effectively. Adrienne is committed to the growth of individuals, nonprofits and for-profits through the use of technology.

Adrienne is the Member and Database Manager for the Association of Florida Colleges; she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the membership database and website, handles exhibit and sponsor sales, and is the coordinator of the Florida College Professional certificate program.

Due to her passion for technology, many are surprised to learn that she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Language from Florida State University, with a minor in Education. She is a member of the Florida Society of Association Executives (FSAE), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), and the Association for Talent Development – Tallahassee Chapter and serves as a volunteer leader. In 2013, she was selected as a Diversity Executive Leadership Scholar (DELP) by ASAE. In 2014, she earned the CAE designation from ASAE.

Lindsay Wilson (MemberClicks): It appears you wear many hats at the Association of Florida Colleges. What part of your job are you most passionate about?

Adrienne Bryant, CAE (AFC): Wow, great question! I’ve actually spent the last 7 years trying to figure out where my passion truly lies. I know one of the reasons I wear so many hats is because I have a deep thirst for learning and knowledge. I want to learn EVERYTHING! I dislike the idea of getting static in a position and have always had the desire to learn more and do more. So to answer your question, I’m passionate about all parts of my job.

As the Member Information and Database Manager (official title), I get to learn about our members and get to know them (even if they do not know me). I get to work in one of my favorite areas – technology! I’ve learned so much about AMS, CMS, LMS, and look forward to exploring other up and coming technological advances! 

In my role as the Exhibit and Sponsor Sales Manager, I get to build relationships with suppliers, talk to them about their needs and how I can partner with them to help achieve their goals and hopefully a fantastic ROI!

And finally, as the Program Coordinator of the AFC Certified College Professional Program, I get so excited every time I get to chat with a college employee about their job or an administrator about what the professional development needs are for their staff and how we can help grow our program to meet the needs and help fill the current gap in the leadership pipeline in the Florida College System. The program is still in its infancy, but we are quickly growing strong legs and I look forward to helping it grow in the upcoming year.

LW: It sounds like you won’t get static anytime soon. You take on a lot of diverse responsibilities and I can tell you’re enthusiastic about each of your roles. I love your thirst for more!

You know a thing or two about social media, what is your favorite social media platform and why?

AB: Ha, just one or two things. Don’t ask me about more than two though. I have to say Twitter. Like Twitter and other social media platforms, I have evolved and what it has done for me is incredible. For example, the majority of the people I call colleagues, and more importantly friends, in this industry, I met via a simple tweet! It’s mind-blowing to think about how much I have learned as an association executive since really getting engaged via Twitter. I was your classic lurker on #assnchat. But Kiki L’Italien (@kikilitalien) was so warm and welcoming and made me feel comfortable speaking up and sharing my thoughts and opinions. And if it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have met my awesome mentor, Sandra Giarde (@sgiarde), my fab accountability partner, Teshia Birts (@teshiabirts), and so many other awesome people. In fact, it was because Stefanie Reeves (@sjreeves) responded to my desperate tweet seeking advice on how to find a mentor, that I applied to the ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP). 

LW: Twitter is such an awesome platform where we can really connect with people in our industry and make long lasting relationships. And it’s even better when you can meet them at events like the ASAE Annual Meeting or local association events. It’s great to put a virtual face to a real one, even though you feel like you already know them.

Do you have any tips or tricks to help other associations be more effective on social media?

AB: You know, I’m sure I could tell you all kinds of cool platforms and widgets and gadgets you could use, but I’m going to take it back to what I learned in 2009 (and some new stuff from now):

  1. Tweet at least 3 times a day and at post at least once a day on the other platforms you use. Frequency gets you noticed. Of course post useful information.
  2. See an interesting tweet? ReTweet (RT) it! If you’re helping others promote their message, they generally will return the favor.
  3. Follow people you know. Then look at their list of followers and find other interesting people to follow. I mean, you follow these people for a reason, right? Hopefully they follow interesting people as well.
  4. SHARE THE LOVE! If people RT or mention you, thank them and share the Twitter love back! Too much self-promotion is spammy and hammy, but when other people help promote you and you return the favor, that’s HAWT! Channeling my inner Paris Hilton.
  5. Analytics, analytics, analytics. Review them, have a conversation with them, learn from them.
  6. Images – Everyone loves a great picture. Who doesn’t stop to look at a photo of cats on the Internet? Shy away from stock images though. You’ve got tons of photos from events taking up space on a server – USE THEM. Get creative.
  7. Feature your members on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and in your blogs. People love to show off to their friends, family, and colleagues. Feed the inner narcissist that resides within all of us.
  8. Hashtags – I’m not a fan of using too many of them, but developing at least a couple that are known as “The XYZ Association Hashtags” can help you quickly discover the good stuff! Also, create a list of relevant industry hashtags (your members’ industry AND the association industry). What an easy way to get your organization name out to potential members who don’t know who you are – yet.
  9. And find a platform that will help you manage all of your social media accounts. I prefer HootSuite, but there are so many out there, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for you and your team.
  10. This wasn’t supposed to be a top ten list but I couldn’t stop at 9. Double check for typos before you post – once it’s in social media land, it’s there forever! And, be patient and HAVE FUN! Life’s short, have fun interacting with members, prospects, supplier, and colleagues via Twitter. You never know what you’re going to learn or who you’re going to meet today.

LW:  This is a great top ten list and very easy to apply to your own association’s Twitter strategy.  If you have any questions, tweet @adriennebryant or @memberclicks. We’d love to help out or get a conversation going.

As a bibliophile (per your Twitter profile), what is your favorite book of all time?

AB: Do I have to choose just one book? Really? Sigh. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein. Okay, I have to go with two. The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. So now I can’t leave out, The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell. Ok, that’s it. 

LW: Thanks for the book recommendations, you can never have too many books you need to read.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this time with Adrienne and can apply some of her tactical Twitter advice to your organization.  We’d love to hear your comments, or to give Adrienne a shout out, just post below. If you would like to speak to MC Talks about your role in association leadership, email marketing@memberclicks.com

Topics: association leadership, Small Staff Chatter

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