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MC Talks
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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: Brandon Robinson, CAE

Posted by Lindsay Wilson


Let me tell you about Brandon…

With my brief interaction with him, I can tell he is a go-getter and I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about his passions and what makes him tick. He has an impressive association management background with over ten years of experience. Brandon is Vice President – Association Management at Eisenman & Associates, an AMC based in Richmond, Va. Brandon’s main client is the Virginia Society of Association Executives (www.vsae.org). He currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development & Communications. On a personal note, Brandon resides in Richmond with his family, Lauren, Ella Lew and Emerson.

Lindsay Wilson (MemberClicks): If you’ve been to the VSAE website recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed some changes. VSAE launched a new brand identity in May of 2015. I asked Brandon to tell me about that process and how it make VSAE more successful moving forward...

Brandon Robinson (Eisenman & Associates): We like to say we changed who we were then updated the logo to match.  Historically, VSAE was an association of local CEOs and senior staff leaders at Virginia’s membership based associations. About 5 years ago, this began to change as a concerted effort was made to grow vertically and attract association executives at all levels in an organization.

The new logo is designed to show the increased diversity of VSAE and its members. In the logo, seven different colors come together and the letters V S A E are formed in the white space in between. This is a reflection of the fact that VSAE exists to connect members together in service of the association community. The new tagline – your association community – reinforces VSAE’s focus on its members and the community it serves.

LW: To check out the full Press Release, click here. And we’re stoked that during all these changes, VSAE decided to make the switch to MemberClicks for their AMS needs. Welcome to the family!

LW: Another big announcement was made and Brandon will become the Executive Vice President of VSAE in January, 2016. Congrats Brandon! What excites you most about this new position?

BR: I think what excites me most about becoming EVP is the same thing that excites me today – working with some of the most amazing people and members to tackle our issues as association executives. My passion is creating the space for solutions to emerge. It could be something a speaker says or maybe something a fellow member shares over a beer at a networking reception. Regardless, when VSAE plays a role in creating the environment for these conversations to take place, that’s when I feel like I make a difference. Being EVP just means I get to lead the team that makes this happen.

I’m also excited to be in a position to affect positive change in the broader industry. I see the association management industry at a major crossroads right now. We are at a pivotal leadership transition point as one generation makes way for the next. One of my passions is helping to bridge and facilitate that transition. So much can be learned and gained from both sides, and I hope I can play a small role leading VSAE in this broader leadership transition.

LW: What are your favorite aspects of planning a conference?

BR: I love geeking out on the content aspect. Last year, I was on the phone with a potential content leader. These calls usually last about 10-15 minutes. After 40 minutes, we were still going strong brainstorming the content for this particular event. Neither one of us had any idea we’d been on the phone that long. It was neat finding another person who was just as passionate about creating the space for VSAE’s members to succeed. Having these types of conversations planning the event and then seeing members engaged at the event is what I love the best.

LW: There is no issue with geeking out on content, geek on! It’s so refreshing to walk out of a session or conference and feel like you learned something and you can go back and apply it.

LW: Apps, Apps, Apps! New apps are coming out all the time and it’s hard to keep track. What is your favorite app?

BR: I don’t really have one, so I’ll pick three – all of them are iPhone apps. First, I love Nike Plus. I’m a runner, so I use it all the time to track my runs. I have this silly goal to run 5,000 miles and run in all 50 states by the time I’m 50. Five by 50 by 50, I call it. I’m a few hundred shy of 2,000 at present and this app is my enabler. Second, I love Waze. When I get in the car to travel more than a few miles, I use this to avoid traffic. I lived in the D.C. area for about 15 years and used up all my patience for traffic, so Waze keeps me sane in the car. Finally, I love Dark Sky. It’s the best weather app out there, period.

LW: I’ve never heard of Dark Sky, I’ll have to check it out. I have Waze and I understand your pain dealing with Atlanta traffic.  Nike Plus is a great app too, unfortunately, it doesn’t get much use on my phone. I will leave the Five by 50 by 50 up to you. Good luck!

We’d love to hear your comments, or to say congrats to Brandon, just post below. If you would like to speak to MC Talks about your role in association leadership, email marketing@memberclicks.com.

Topics: association management, Small Staff Chatter

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