Since association and meeting management is what I do every day as my team and I provide service to our clients I know the staff side very well. Over the past 6 years it has also been my pleasure to serve on the Board of the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE). I am currently Treasurer and in the past has served as Education Committee Chair and on the Golf Committee. I currently serve on the Education Committee. The last few years MASAE has tried to add value for our members by trying different types of events.
Three years ago we reinvented an event that was part of the Delaware Valley Society of Association Executives (DVSAE and NJSAE merged to form MASAE). The event was always held in June and was always in Philadelphia. The event was the DVSAE main event and our Annual Leadership Conference. The focus was senior level education. I have been fortunate to be part of the planning committee for the MASAE version of this meeting for the past three years. The event is now termed the MASAE Mid-Year Meeting and is an integral part of the education we offer. Like many associations MASAE serves a large geographic area and it is necessary for us to have a variety of events in different geographic areas. The Mid-Year Meeting provides MASAE the opportunity to serve the members in Philadelphia area by providing a full day of quality education with vendors and networking time. MASAE volunteers recognized a need and mobilized to meet it. We knew we did not need to create an entirely new event but with some tweaks and improvements were able to repackage a past event and make it fresh and new.
Since I view networking as a very important component of my professional development I wanted to launch an informal “Breakfast Club”. A few other dedicated volunteers and I started planning and have successfully launched this new type of event for MASAE. The event is held in the morning before the official work day starts. The event starts at about 7:30am and lasts to about 8:30 or 9am. The bill is just split between the participants. At the first session last week we had 12 people and we are now planning a breakfast in Trenton. After the event we did a quick survey and all 12 people said the time spent was worthwhile and they would attend again. Many of the comments centered around the fact that attendees were glad to have the opportunity to sit and talk with someone for more than the 2 minute meet and greet at a meeting or exhibit hall. We also asked for ways we could improve the session and based on that feedback we will have a topic of conversation centered around our professional discipline as a starter. We will not have a presentation since we want to maintain the informal feel of the event but will have a topic such as membership growth and people can bring problems to discuss, resources they are aware of or great ideas that have worked for the. In my opinion this is the perfect balance between informal networking and education.
As I said associations always need to be changing in order to serve the members they have (and members they want to have) better. It is only through the willingness to change and by taking some calculated risks that your association will improve. Different members want different things from the association and the person that attends the Mid-Year Meeting may not be the same person that comes to the “Breakfast Club” but by offering a variety of meeting styles in a variety of locations and venues your chances of having what your members are looking for are greatly improved.
If I can be of assistance or you want to discuss the event formats listed above or any other association management issues please call or email me. I love talking about the power of associations and what a group can accomplish together.
Have a great end of summer.