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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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Member Engagement: When It’s Not You, It’s Them

Posted by Callie Walker

Boost Member Engagement.jpg

We often talk about best practices for onboarding new members - sending them warm welcome messages, inviting them to meetings and events, providing them with valuable content, etc. But let’s say you’ve done all of that and you still can’t get your new members to engage with you. Are you doing something wrong?

Chances are, no. Think about how busy you are in a day. Well, your members are likely just as busy, and as much as they want to get involved in your association (they joined after all!), they’re struggling to find the time. Plus, they need a little help making engagement a habit - they’re not used to visiting your website or reading your weekly newsletter, and they need help fitting that in their day-to-day.

So what do you do when the problem with engagement isn’t you, it’s them? Here are a few tips:

1. Provide them with something time-sensitive

New members WANT to get involved - they really do. (They wouldn’t be paying dues for nothing.) But often it’s, “Oh, I’ll get to that later,” and then later never comes. So how do you get them to engage NOW? Well, consider providing them with something time-sensitive, like a time-sensitive coupon, for example. Maybe it’s for a free online webinar, but it has to be used in the next 30 days. By doing this, you’re pushing them to take that first step. And often, the first step is the hardest.

Once they attend that first webinar though, they’ll likely see how valuable it was and be more inclined to register for another one.

2. Make them feel good about themselves

When a new member joins your association, chances are, they probably feel pretty good about themselves. They joined a professional organization because they WANT to further their career, meet other industry professionals/leaders, be at the forefront of new trends/regulations, etc. That’s not something to be taken lightly.

Let your new members relish in that by rewarding them for joining. This could be as simple as providing them with a virtual badge - a high resolution JPEG that says, “I’m a member of Organization XYZ.” Then encourage them to share that image on social media. This makes THEM look good, and not only that, but if they’re actively telling people they’re a member, they’re going to start feeling a little internal pressure to get involved. (It’s silly to tell people you’re a member if you’ve never actually done anything with the organization - and that’s good news for your association!)

3. Put a little pressure on them - with an actual human!

It’s so easy to push things off in email form, especially if they’re automated. (This goes back to the “I’ll get to that later” concept.) Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t send automated emails (you should, as they DO help with engagement AND make your life easier).

That said, let’s say you’ve sent your new members a few automated messages (a welcome email, an event invitation, etc.) and they’re still not engaging with you. Well, at the point, pair them with an actual person. This could even be one of your other members (kind of like a member mentor program). Have this person reach out to them and let them know how they got involved when they first joined, things they wish they knew when they first joined, etc.

When a person reaches out and they’re genuinely trying to help, it’s much harder to ignore that than it is an automated email (where there’s no accountability and no human emotion involved).

Want more tips for engaging your members - both newbies and veterans? Check out our free guide, Membership Engagement for Small-Staff Associations, below!

Membership Engagement  A comprehensive guide to engaging your organization's membership Download this guide

Topics: association management, member engagement, membership management, Association Views

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