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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 Power of Vulnerability

Posted by Callie Walker

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend #INBOUND15, a four-day marketing conference hosted by HubSpot. HubSpot is a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that develops and markets an inbound marketing and sales platform. The conference consisted of 170+ educational sessions and 5 inspiring keynotes – one of which stood out so much to me that I just HAD to come back and share it with you.

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past twelve years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, the Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, and I was fortunate enough to be able to hear it at #INBOUND15. 

Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness, but according to Brown, vulnerability is not a weakness at all. Rather, it is perhaps one of our most accurate measures of courage. This is particularly true of organizational leaders. 

We like to think of all great leaders as confident and self-assured – like no matter what happens, they “knew it all along.” I mean, if a leader showed any sign of vulnerability, their team would immediately view them as weak, right? 


Every leader has vulnerability, and vulnerability is a strength. According to Brown, “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.” 

You see, vulnerability is tied to our feelings of shame and worthiness. Yes, it can be a scary feeling, but if don’t risk anything, you won’t gain anything either. Here’s an example: If you’re a leader, you may have to have a difficult conversation with your staff members at some point. This can be extremely intimidating because it opens you up to feelings of shame and worthiness, but it can also lead to an immediate payoff for you and your entire team. 

So as an association professional, the next time you feel afraid to confront others or make a change within your organization, remember this: Vulnerability is a natural condition of the work you do – it isn’t a choice, but a consequence. So don’t fear the feeling of vulnerability, embrace it! After all, it’s a sign of your own courage and strength. 

To view Dr. Brené Brown’s entire TED talk, click here.

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Topics: association leadership, Small Staff Chatter

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