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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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Small Staff Association Leaders and ASAE's Collaborate

Posted by Sarah Hill

One of my favorite parts of my morning is logging into ASAE’s Collaborate. If you’re unfamiliar with Collaborate, it’s an active message board community run by ASAE, the American Society for Association Executives. Although I don’t post a whole lot myself, I find it to be a hub for news around the association world, tips and tricks, advice, and most importantly advice and interaction. 


Here are some great features of ASAE’s Collaborate that you can use in your daily small staff association life!

1)   Hire a consultant

Consultants, the need for them, and recommendations come up pretty often on the Collaborate message boards. An interesting thing I find in the consultant conversation is the number of people who hadn’t considered hiring one type of consultant or another- and the number of people who had. One thing for sure about small staff association leaders is that they need help, and Collaborate is a great way to see just exactly how much help is out there, and even the best people to call for the most reasonable rates! 

2)   Get free advice

Consultants are great, but you have to pay. Sometimes you just have a few questions that need answering. Say, for example, you are considering rewriting your membership guidelines. Where to begin? What do you do with the old ones? How do you sell the changes to your board and members? On Collaborate, there are people who can answer those questions and answer them well from personal experience. You’ll probably even get some diverse viewpoints which is super helpful because as we all know, not every association is the same.

3)   Volunteer

ASAE is always looking for qualified volunteers, and you could be one of them! Working on an ASAE committee isn’t just a great way to spend your time. It’s also amazing networking and a spectacular resume boost. Seeing how ASAE runs their volunteer efforts, recruitment, and events is a great model for you to consider when planning your own volunteer outreach as well.

4)   Brag

ASAE’s Collaborate is a true peer group for you as an association leader, and the individual communities on the boards are an even more finite look. If you had a big win for your association, talk about it! Same with impressive hires, cool events, and speaking engagements. Your colleagues will share your joy, probably have some questions of their own, and have some insight into how to make all of your hires amazing and all of your events must-attend!

5)   Tap into real-life networking

This one might be a little tougher since there are association leaders literally all over the world, but you’d be surprised how many local meet-ups there are just for association pros! You’d also be surprised how much you can learn from those in-person networking events, as well. Collaborate is the place to learn about them! Bonus points if you’re in the D.C. area!

ASAE Collaborate is a service that comes with a paid ASAE Membership. Membership can be a tremendous asset to an association pro, but there is also an expense to consider. Read more about it at www.asaecenter.org and talk it over with your board!

One really noteworthy part of ASAE Membership is the ASAE Annual Meeting. This year it’s in Nashville, and you can win the registration, transportation costs, and hotel for free! Click here to learn about our Small Staff Selfie contest and share your selfie for a chance to win.

Topics: association management, association leadership, small staff association, member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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