Blog: January 2019
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What’s on NE/SAE Members’ Minds? Notes from the Recent Unconference Sessions

New England Society of Association Executives Annual Management Conference featured two breakout sessions that were delivered in an unconference format.  Attendees were given the opportunity to submit topics in advance and contributed additional topics on site, at the sessions.  The sessions were facilitated by Pam McKenna, CAE, President of McKenna Management and Sue Pine, CAE, Sales Consultant for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and VP of Professional Development at AH.

There were many topics raised by attendees; far more than could be discussed in depth in two hours.  Topics included:

  • Communicating value to members
  • Compelling educational topics
  • Moving long-time employees to new ideas and technology
  • Developing useful metrics to track membership drive for effectiveness
  • Staff motivation and team building
  • What is the greatest challenge an association is facing circa 2019?
  • How do association executives handle HR challenges?
  • Change management
  • Managing social media with small staff
  • New learning methodologies
  • Operationalizing values and culture
We asked attendees to vote on the topics they’d like to discuss and those with the most votes were the topics we addressed.  Staff Motivation and Team Building topped the list followed by Communicating Value to Members and New Learning Methodologies.  Ideas generated by the attendees for each of these topics follow.

Staff Motivation and Team Building

  • Acknowledge staffs’ birthdays and work anniversaries
  • Offer extra days off, pizza etc.
  • Offer a wellness program or support for wellness.  
    • Yoga, meditation, nutrition, paint and sip, walking meetings
  • “Rounding” – take the time to engage your staff in personal conversations – helps build rapport
  • Ask staff what they’d like to see for staff motivation and team building
    • Let them own the initiative
    • Collective decision
  • Express appreciation
    • Thank you
    • Small gifts for jobs well done or employee of the month
  • Show staff you trust them, make them feel empowered
  • Provide your staff with professional development
    • Offer leadership development opportunities
  • Mention your staff in your association’s newsletter (give them credit for their great work)
  • Team building 
    • Anything that brings back childhood memories
    • Games
    • Social responsibility day
    • Get out of the office 

Communicating Value to Members

  • Offer relevant value
    • I.e., what a newcomer wants is not going to be the same as what an experienced industry professional/member wants
    • What is the life cycle of a member?  Map it out
  • Give members a sense of belonging
    • Networking
    • Giving back
    • Ambassador program/buddy/first timer events
  • Converting prospects that benefit
    • I.e., from advocacy
    • Give them a carrot – we passed this bill, it means this to you, to learn more on how to adopt the new rules/regs/implementation etc., you must be a member
    • How tos/data is in a member only area on your web site
  • Does your association have a “golden handcuff?”
  • Offer business referrals
    • Take a quick pulse (flash) survey of your members to find out how many referrals they’ve received as a member
  • Have a member only resources tab on your web site
  • What is your member’s ROI? 
    • Something Ed Rigsbee has calculated with groups
    • What is the value/dollar amount of what your member gets for their dues vs the cost of dues?
  • Videos
    • Testimonials that you can put on your web site, push out via social media and e-mails
    • Thank yous 
    • Videolicious 

New Learning Methodologies

  • How do you offer online education without cannibalizing your conferences (face to face events?)
    • Trends – online, micro opp
  • Recording conferences
    • Selling 1-hour modules
  • Pay attention to demographics and changing needs of members
  • Webinars
  • HyFlex (hybrid-flexible)  course - attend in person or online
  • Audio with PowerPoint
  • Shifts in lengths of conference sessions
    • 60 minutes/90 minutes – too long
    • 30-45 minutes – pick and choose
  • Market it as a special event
    • Don’t release entire conference at ones
  • Offer CEs
  • Utilizing business partners as presenters
  • Try it before diving in
  • Can be a marketing tool for face to face
  • Suggested chapters don’t want to compete with national