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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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What Kind of Members Do You Have?

Posted by Sarah Hill


If you ever go on Facebook to catch up with family and friends, you’re likely inundated with quizzes as soon as you log on. “What kind of tree are you?” “If you were a Jane Austen heroine, which one would you be?” and my personal favorite: “What kind of natural disaster are you?” It’s becoming obvious that this social media trend has a deeper undertone: who are we really?

Now, granted, some of it is just novelty and interest and the dang ease of clicking those links. Nobody will reasonably introduce themselves to a colleague or list on their resume that if they were a Disney Princess they’d be Rapunzel. But you have to admit that this new, perhaps even somewhat annoying trend speaks to self-identifying in a whole new way. 


So how would your members self-identify? Outside of “I am a member of this association” what would they say about their lives? Probably something along the lines of, “I’m a parent” “I work for this company” and “I’m from here.” That stuff is pretty obvious, and as an association you’re likely tapping into those self-identity markers already by doing obvious stuff like scheduling meeting times around reasonable work hours, considering school schedules for those parents, etc. 

Consider this thought-provoking quiz popping up in your newsfeed: “What type of association member are you?” Say your members fill out a list of questions about attendance, dues, accountability, volunteerism, interest, etc. and they land in one of these categories:

  • The leader

This member takes charge, never misses an event, and always steps up to help! He or she knows all of the important key players and is ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. Probably a past (and future) board member, this member is knowledgable enough to guide any new member through the ropes. 

  • The constant attendee

This member is a regular networker and attendee, but may not have the time or bandwidth to contribute to the actual running of your association. 

  • The “wannabee”

This member may not have the time to commit to regular attendance, but runs support behind the scenes. He or she may be in regular contact with leaders offering help... but limited availability and a lot of optimism that’ll change and he or she can step up more in the future.

  • The new, engaged member

This member recently joined and is super psyched! He or she is all full of enthusiasm and energy and is ready to attend events, meet people, and better themselves and the community through their work with the association. 

  • The “this will look great on my resume” member

This member is a member on paper and may attend a meeting or even here or there, but the primary objection for being a member of this association is the line on the resume. 

  • The unlimited potential 

Put simply, this member is disengaged, but rather than focus on the “name without a face” line on a membership roster this member really has nowhere to go up up!

How do you think most of your members would score on this quiz? If it was up to you, how would they all score? How can you offer some ways for your members to switch up their engagement so they may get a different result if they were to take this imaginary quiz in a year?

You’re on your way to rockstar member engagement! If you need a little extra help, download our free guide by clicking below!

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

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