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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 Small Staff Association Leader Who Volunteers

Posted by Sarah Hill

Chances are as a small staff association leader, you don’t get to do a lot of traditional volunteering. Don’t get me wrong- you work hard, and for free, volunteering your spare time A LOT. But the long hours and the late nights you put in working for your association isn’t quite the same as volunteering for another local nonprofit. I know what you’re thinking: where the heck am I going to find the time for that? 

I can’t tell you how to shuffle your schedule so you have time to do yet one more thing. But I can tell you why it’s valuable both personally and professionally, especially as a small staff association leader.


Here are the main reasons.

  • See what works and what doesn’t

Going to other events and volunteering will open your eyes to how other successful events work. While they might not exactly be your association’s cup of tea, it’s always valuable to see how other events work. How do the attendees seem to be responding? How about the speaker or main event? And importantly, how are volunteers used?

  • Stand in the volunteer’s shoes

Volunteering gives you a sharp idea of how the volunteers feel. Is it boring standing in a lobby somewhere pointing people to the elevators? Are you shuffling volunteers to a similar spot in your events? How can that role, honestly pretty important in directing attendees, be more interesting and more aligned with volunteer goals? 

  • Set a good example

I read somewhere that the best bosses would never ask their employees to do something they would refuse to do themselves. Certainly you would fill every volunteer role at your events if you could, but you’re only one person. Showing up as a volunteer at other events shows your own personal altruism and makes you look great!

  • Networking

Most of your members probably volunteer at your events for some kind of networking opportunities. This is valuable for you, too! When you volunteer at an event outside of your own association you’ll get to meet other people and set up partnerships. Perhaps if you bring other members to volunteer with this other organization, they’ll be more likely to volunteer at your next event. You never know!


Volunteering in general also offers a variety of benefits including new friends, increased self-confidence, job skills and happiness. When you participate in volunteering events you’ll get those benefits too but more importantly you’ll be able to relay those to your own volunteers.

Need help planning that next event? We’ve got you covered. Click below to download our guide to event planning today!

Download our Event  Planning Guide for  Small Staff Associations

Topics: association management, association leadership, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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