Because college not only a great example of a time when wonderful relationship form
But also as a reference to something that colleges do to encourage freshmen success that I think we can translate to the association world
So what can we do as conference organizers to increase the opportunities for relationships to form?Some are small stepsHere these large associations are breaking down their attendees into smaller targeted groups or creating specific events and competitions.
RSNA – has quite a bit of international attendance, so a breakdown by country or languages is important
Simple – helpfulICBA Stars on badges for first timersICBA – StarsStole the idea from Craft and Hobby Association
Do you have a first timer receptionAre you creating a welcoming environment during the receptionThe first time I sent an email to our lone attendees……..
How about everyone else?As meeting planners, you can create wonderful opportunities for strangers to interact in a non-threatening environment.
This can be fun or lonely depending on your point of view.
Opening Session InteractionsWhat is meaningful to your attendee – our are retailers so this worked.
Then it moved into a revenue generating opportunity as well as an engaging event for members.
ICBA – even breaks education tracks further by POS system used.
Volunteer recognition and encouragement – they become your brand ambassadorsShow candy bar wrappers
We have a volunteer lounge and photos of volunteers are collected and posted. The first year I solicited photos, I thought I would receive a lot of headshots. This is our incoming board president.
They want to connect with you and with each other – are you providing an opportunity to do so.
I received 5 photos from this member and two were just of the fish
Serendipity can happen. It will happen more if we – the event organizers – push it along.Look how happy Randy is to find his picture in the lounge.
Try something to inspire.
I sent it – just for fun to my secret squirrels. They went crazy for it.
Ok – Secret Squirrel – NACS Virtual Task ForceDo what you can – the smallest thing can generate interest and excitement.
Planned Serendipity … Wonderful unexpected discoveries of things not sought for, but planned by outside forces.
It is easy to forget your volunteers are peoplefirst, membership and attendance at your eventmay be lower on their priority list.
The Shared Experience of Absurdity – Charlie Todd – on Ted Talkshttp://www.ted.com/talks/charlie_todd_the_shared_experience_of_absurdity.htmlhttp://improveverywhere.com/2009/02/09/high-five-escalator/
Secret SquirrelsWendy HollidayVice President, Marketing and Member ServicesNational Association of College StoresPh: (800) 622-7498, ext. 2303 Fx: (440) email@example.com