Lunchtime Links: Don’t Lose Sight of the People

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating your association’s business strategy is forgetting to build a personal relationship with your members. Also: Do you really need to book entertainment for your next event?

When association folks talk about launching new products, analyzing data, and so on, they often talk at a high level about the people their associations serve.

But what if that’s the wrong way to look at things? Thoughts on building personal relationships with members, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

A personal touch is key: There’s a danger in thinking too abstractly about the people you’re trying to reach—you know, your members—when talking about ways to grow your association’s market. That’s something Anna Caraveli, managing partner of Connection Strategists, makes clear in her her latest post on The Demand Perspective. She suggests that many businesses have turned consumer engagement into an impersonal thing. “To get to the heart of your customers’ real needs and engage them in solving them,” Caraveli writes, “you don’t have to drown your organization in rules, technique, data, tools or erudite theories. Getting to know customers, just like any other human being, is akin to a process of peeling layers to get to the center.” You may have a lot of members, but how do you keep your approach with each of them personal?

Skip the entertainment? During a long conference, having an act to entertain attendees may seem like just the right idea to keep things from getting too heavy. But conference education expert Adrian Segar argues that it’s not really necessary. “I’ve come to realize a successful conference doesn’t need entertainment. In fact, entertainment can break the ‘conference trance,’” he argues in a blog post on his Conferences That Work site. “I’ve found that most people are happy to immerse themselves in a set of conference topics that are dear to their hearts. A prolonged break, when their attention is dragged elsewhere, can make it difficult for them to return to the intense experience they were having before the interruption.” Agree? Or do you think it’s worth it to conference-goers to bring, say, Maroon 5 (or a Maroon 5 cover band, at the least) to the stage?

You need more empty space: Is your association’s approach to events too heavy a lift? Noted speaker and author Cyriel Kortleven believes in the “less is more” school of thought, and he has a few ideas on how to keep too much choice from overwhelming both your event and your overall organizational process. Among the ideas he suggests is to embrace  the “unconference” format. “Participants love to talk, so give them the chance to do this,” Kortleven writes. “Unconferences (world café, open space, [dialogue] tables … ) are great formats to leave the conversation to the real experts (the participants) instead of arranging everything for them. Let them share the most important insights of the conference and make a translation to their daily work.” Check out more of his insights in his guest post on the Event Manager Blog.

What’s on your link list today? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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