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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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The "Noun" Rule and Association Networking

Posted by Sarah Hill


Networking: the essence of the association world. Where would we be without it? Networking is how you meet all of your association rock stars, your committee leaders, your friends and quite honestly the folks who may give you your next opportunities. 

 As the year winds down and you start thinking about the personal and professional paths you’d like to be on and you’d like for your association to strive for, make a list of things you would like to learn from people in the last of the year’s events. 

When networking, I found a good trick is to meditate on nouns: people, places, things. Not only are those safe subjects, but you can learn a lot, find common ground, and share great information that not only is useful to you, but makes you incredibly valuable to whoever you’re talking to.

Take these conversation starters, for example:


  • Allow me to introduce you to…
  • Have you met anyone who…
  • Who do you consider to be a role model?


  • Where do you find is a good place to hold meetings/events in your area?
  • Have you been to… (name another local networking event)
  • Will you be attending… (name a future event)


  • What do you find works best for your members when it comes to… 
  • Are there tricks of the trade you can’t live without?
  • What kind of technology do you regularly use?

Obviously these conversations can be more carefully tailored to your audience, and you won’t want to come across as nosy by firing off these questions in quick succession. Any of these conversation starters are a great jumping off point for a natural conversation, however. Go for it! Get your networking on!

For more tips on how to successfully network, download our free guide below!

Download The Small Staff  Guide to Networking

Topics: association management, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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