Our recent reader poll may have seemed like it was penned by Captain Obvious, but our staff enjoys getting back to basics every now and then and taking a look at the foundations of association life. One of those foundations is why members attend events, which often play a central role in an association’s operations.
Events are a major conduit for members to meet and grow professional relationships and friendships. They are a major way for members to take in continuing education.
They are just plain fun, too: What member, for reasons other than budget or time constraints, has said “No thank you” to an association awards night, a pre-conference brewery tour, or a charity event that benefits their own community?
On the association staff side, events provide a way to become more personally familiar with the membership. Knowing members personally hones the ways in which staff can better strive serve them. Serving members better leads to more membership renewals and the creation of association ambassadors, which leads to new members. Better-served members who enjoy quality events also leads to repeat attendance at such events. Both increased membership and repeat attendance leads to more non-dues revenue, and a financially healthy association that can afford to make desired changes in the industry that benefit its members and stakeholders.
That’s a lot of potential success riding on events!
Going back to our spirit of getting back to basics: With so much potential riding on a successful association event, we wanted to know: What is the main reason your members attend your events?
Out of four potential choices, our readers responded accordingly:
Not too surprisingly, networking (46%) and education (36%) were the top two reasons chosen for event attendance. These choices reflect the basic reasons many professionals join associations; that is, to connect with like-minded individuals in their industry and to grow their professional knowledge beyond their formal education.
Sharing ideas/expertise and simply getting out of the office tied for third place as the reasons members attend events. Closely related to networking and education, sharing ideas is another foundational reason many members join an association. Younger members can offer insight into current research or technology they may have been taught while earning their recent degree/certification. More seasoned members have the benefit of years of experience in the field, and often want to share that knowledge with others just starting out in an effort to pass on the same type of professional kindness and guidance they were shown when they began their careers.
And who can blame members for wanting a change of scenery every now and then? Simply getting out from behind the desk for a midday lunch program such as TSAE’s Learn@Lunch program can be a breath of fresh air for some. For others, a longer event in an alluring destination, such as NAFA Fleet Management Association’s Institute & Expo, to be held in Tampa this year, can provide a professional jolt of ideas along with a mental and emotional rejuvenation that leaves a member refreshed and ready to tackle their next challenge.