Meetings

Lunchtime Links: Sizing Up Your Conference

By / Oct 16, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Why the size of your conference matters. Plus: the importance of a strong email list.

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when determining how big—or small—your organization’s next event should be. Points to consider, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links.

Quality vs. quantity: Big or small? There is no right answer when it comes to meeting size. To determine the optimal size for your next event, first ask yourself what type of attendees you want to attract and the experience you seek to offer, advises Martha C. White in a recent BizBash article citing interviews from meeting professionals. Members expect more from bigger events, writes White, in everything from your keynote speaker to A-list attendees. Opting for a smaller event lowers expectations and, as a result, competition, says Ryan Begelman, CEO of commercial real estate media and event company Bisnow Media. “With a local event, you can create a sense of community for your audience for your brand that a national event can’t do,” Begelman says. Should your organization reevaluate the size of its events? Something to consider.

Filling the gap: Education programs are just one of many services your association might provide its members. But budgets are tight and holding these events face-to-face might be cost-prohibitive. Writing for her company’s Social Learning Blog, Jodi Harrison, vice president of business development for Interactyx, suggests that organizations take advantage of the power of social platforms for education. Everything from blogs to discussion boards to chat rooms can be used to connect members to information in a way that fuels active participation. “The most effective learning management systems are those that operate within the cloud, with no hardware to maintain and no expensive technical team to pay,” Harrison writes. How does your association encourage active participation in education programs?

To infinity (and beyond): Member engagement is key for associations—but it only works if effective communication is in place. Step number one: Ramp up that email list, writes Inc.com contributor Kevin Daum. Give people a reason to subscribe by providing amazing, engaging content. “Submit polished, compelling material to targeted websites and blogs as guest posts,” Daum writes. And while you’re at it, plug subscriptions to your email chain with a link at the end of your articles. This isn’t dating—so don’t tread lightly. Grab members’ attention and pull them in. “If people are conversing with you and responding, don’t be afraid to ask if you can add them to your list… Most will say yes if you demonstrate that you are smart and entertaining,” he writes. Create visible calls to action on your website, with a pop-up asking for readers’ virtual John Hancock, Daum suggests—though it might be best to wait until they’re on the second or third page.

Does your organization have any tips for getting members engaged in its message? Tell us in the comments.

Emma Beck

Emma Beck is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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