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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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Your Members Want This From Your Executive Director

Posted by Krissy Conant

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While personalities will vary between your association’s management team, it’s important that your members feel like they can relate to your executive director. In many ways, they are often seen as the face of your association. No pressure to make a good impression, right?

So then, what is it exactly that your members want? We’ve narrowed it down to these top three traits that we believe your members want to see in your association’s executive director. Take a look below!


Often enough your members might know very little about your executive director, except for their name and photo. We believe it’s crucial that your members feel like they can approach and interact with them, whether that’s virtually or in-person. One method to support this is encouraging your executive director to appear in public for industry events. This in-person exposure can help members feel like they can walk up and actually connect with them on a personal level.

Your executive director can also accomplish this by providing their work email to your members. Sounds simple enough, right? You might be surprised to find that some executive director’s never give out their email and will only provide a general contact to their members. While we definitely believe in delegating job responsibilities, it goes a long way for them to respond to direct inquiries and help guide your member to the right person.


Many people within your association (members, staff, volunteers) will be looking to your executive director to define the short term and long term vision for the association. So, what does this really mean on a day-to-day level? Your executive director needs to be the “compass” for your association. This transparent direction will allow your members to feel included in the motions of your association as well as understand the needs, wants, and goals of the association overall.

Your executive director can accomplish this by tracking what marketing channels have the highest engagement and hearing your members needs. By taking these direct responses to heart, your executive director can determine a clearer vision of what direction your association needs to go. This push and pull can become a trust exchange between your executive director and your members, ultimately strengthening your staff-member relationship.


It’s crucial to remember that trust goes hand in hand with accountability. Your members want to know that your executive director is going to be held to a certain standard of behavior and have a proven track record. This consistency will allow for your members to feel like your association is in safe and capable hands.

One of the best ways that your executive director can show accountability is by being consistent. While it’s not flashy, it certainly is effective! More importantly though, being consistent will help back-up other important traits for them, like their work experience and their dedication to your association.

A big goal of your association should be to show that your executive director doesn’t just work in an ivory tower away from the association’s majority, but is rather another supporter of your industry! By having them focus on their visibility, direction, and accountability, your members should feel A-okay about your association and their involvement!

We all know it can be a hard battle to get people involved in organizations! If you’re feeling stumped on how to increase that traffic to your site, try taking a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing to see what small changes you can do to make a big difference!

Growing Your Organization's Membership  A beginner's guide to inbound marketing for associations Download this guide

Topics: small staff association, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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