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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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You Dropped the Ball with Member Engagement. Now what?

Posted by Sarah Hill

One day you get into a project. Maybe you’re buying an AMS, maybe you’re mediating a conflict in the board, maybe you’re a volunteer leader and your day job got crazy, maybe your work went on autopilot while you handled a crisis at home. You become so absorbed that the next time you look up and get a chance to focus on member engagement you realized it’s been months and nobody seems to be around. You're all by yourself, and it seems like everyone is blaming you for the lack of member engagement lately.


Never fear! There are ways to pick it back up!

  • Be honest

Even though it’s somewhat embarrassing for an association pro to drop member engagement for a while, it’s understandable. Let me caution you: feathers will still be a little ruffled. After all, nobody wants to feel abandoned. But of course you have perfectly valuable reasons that things have gotten shuffled and your priorities were realigned temporarily. Just be straight with your members, fellow staff, and board. You don’t have to get too specific, though. “Family issues” or “work stuff” can often be clear enough.

  • Have something planned already

When you resurface after a period of disengagement, be sure to have a re-engagement strategy in mind already. Coming to the table with a solution before presenting the problem is a good idea in general, but more so when it’s you who dropped the ball. Have a tentative date and event in mind! Draft some email blasts or a newsletter. Outline an engagement strategy for the next six months. None of this is written in stone, of course, but it’s a great gesture to show your head is back in the game and open the conversation on a positive note.

  • Open up lines of communication

You were unavailable for a little while. Now you’re not. Be sure the important people know how to contact you. Make sure your members are aware of your email address or the best way to get in touch if they have questions for want to volunteer. Give pertinent phone numbers to those who really need to get in touch, and then make sure you return calls! Keep those lines of communication open and active.

  • Ask for help

Finally, engagement is no easy task when you’re in maintenance mode, much less when you’re starting again from basically square one. Now’s a great time to offer members opportunities to volunteer. Don’t just shout into the void, “I need help!” Give specific roles and detailed job descriptions for where members could help. An event coordinator? A membership liaison? Take some time to outline what those specific volunteer positions look like, and then offer members that leadership opportunity.

You can never make up for that lost time, but you can make the most of your time moving forward. Focus on the positive, keep your head in the game, and in the future make member engagement more of a priority!

While you’re ramping up that member engagement, let us help! Download our free guide below.

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

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