3 Ways to Avoid Convention Staff Burnout – Pre-Conference

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Jessica Garrett, Conference Manager

Burnout: It happens to all of us. The longer hours put in before the conference lead up to even longer hours on-site. Multiple site visits mean not sleeping in your own bed along with changes in your eating habits and generally being off of your schedule. All of these together can quickly add up to staff burnout. With burnout, you become more than just physically exhausted; it leaves you emotionally and mentally drained as well. But burnout doesn’t have to be a fact of life for convention staff. With careful planning and mindful preparation you can work towards a smoother, better conference season.

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout – Pre-Conference

Plan ahead and get tasks done early. Of course, there are always going to be things that cannot be done until the week or two weeks before the conference. For everything else, get it done as early as possible so you are not bogged down with additional tasks the week before. Track tasks in a spreadsheet or use a program like Basecamp to help keep projects moving well in advance of deadlines.

Catch up on your sleep and stick to your nutrition habits as closely as possible. If you know you’re going to need to stay later at the office, plan ahead and bring extra snacks or dinner to heat in the microwave. No one particularly likes to eat multiple meals at the office in one day but it’s better than fast food at 9 pm on your way home. Try to go to bed at your normal time when at all possible. You may get a little behind on your favorite TV show, but just know there’s a DVR/Hulu/Netflix binge in your near future.

Get your personal affairs in order the week before. Pick your outfits and start packing for the conference in advance. You don’t want to stay up late packing and frantically doing laundry the night before your trip! Catch up on laundry before you leave so you are not coming home to chaos. If you are the main cook in your household, stock your freezer with pre-made, ready-made foods so you’re not stressed or hearing complaints while you’re gone.

Stay tuned for more tips on avoiding conference burnout!

What are your tips for avoiding burnout in the weeks leading up to an event? Let us know if the comments below.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

5 Must-Pack Items for Conferences

Image Credit: By Israel Sundseth

By Valerie Sprague, AMS Manager

When attending a conference, there are a few must-have items that are essential for a smooth and successful trip. From staying connected to looking out for your own personal comfort, here are some items you don’t want to leave home without.

  1. Devices and  chargers. Don’t forget those all-important devices (think laptop, cell phone, tablet, etc.); and also remember to pack those chargers for your numerous devices you will be using at a conference. A laptop left at your office or the cell phone charger still plugged into your wall at home could turn into a big conference fail!
  2. Something warm to wear. Meeting rooms and conference centers can run cold. It’s always best to be prepared with a warmer item, such as a sweater, that you can easily carry around with you and throw on should the temperatures drop in the meeting room.
  3. Comfortable shoes. Generally, conferences will involve a lot of walking or time spent on your feet. Be it walking through airports, socializing at a network event, traveling between meeting rooms at a venue or walking an exhibit hall – you will likely be on your feet a lot! So keep this in mind when packing shoes. Also, remember, it’s probably not a good idea to try out a brand new pair of shoes at a conference but, if you must, pack some adhesive bandages too.
  4. Business cards. You’ll probably want to have business cards on you when meeting new contacts, so make sure these get packed as an essential item. You never know who you will meet and it’s a great way to stay in contact even after the event.
  5. Travel bag. Don’t forget a lightweight travel bag, tote bag or backpack to carry all of the above! This will make it easy to have everything on you and stay organized when actually attending the big event.

Being prepared with these crucial items will help ensure you are prepared for your next conference experience!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Automatic Renewals for Associations

Image Credit: Canva

By Linda Owens, CAE, owner, President

“Sign-up and Receive Automatic Renewal Member Perks!”

We’ve all received promotions like this to reward automatic renewal. No longer do companies exclusively focus on the incentive of saving time on future purchases; they instead focus on tangible benefits to encourage anyone who might be on the fence about auto renewal.

For example, by signing up for the Entertainment Book’s automatic renewal program, I receive exclusive Renewal Members’ perks like:

  • $5 off your Renewal books every year
  • Free shipping on your Renewal books every year
  • Early delivery—15 full months to use each book
  • 10% off additional books you buy as gifts or for yourself
  • Renewal Members-only exclusive offers and discounts
  • 50% off additional Member Fine Dine Cards
  • New! FREE Companion mobile app — view your book on your phone

What if one of the associations I belong to was to send me a similar email, would I sign up for their automatic renewal program? What about you, would you sign up? What type of perks would entice the typical association member to choose to automatically renew their membership from year to year? How about:

  • $5 off the next year’s dues
  • Free shipping on your next order from the association’s bookstore
  • 5% off the next Annual Conference registration fee
  • Admittance to a free webinar held exclusively for Renewal Members only

Do you have other ideas to add to this list? Does your association offer an automatic renewal program?

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Roundup! Our Top 10 Lists

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

I love a good “list post.” You’ve probably seen them everywhere: Top 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life Before Breakfast, 5 Ways to Be a Superhero Every Day, or 7 Movies You Didn’t Know Are Based on a True Story. List posts get you to the information you need without a lot of fuss and then get you on to the rest of your day.

In honor of this perennial favorite, we present to you a roundup of the top list posts from the IMI blog!

Top 10 List Posts for Associations

  1. Top Speakers & Sessions at ASAE

Our team shares the sessions we just can’t stop talking about.

  1. 5 Ways to Save a Bad Day

If your Tuesday feels like Monday 2.0, this post is for you.

  1. 5 Steps to an Awesome Onboarding Experience

Help the new employee or volunteer acclimate quickly with these tips.

  1. Top 10 Excel Tips and Shortcuts for Associations

Whether you love Excel or love to hate it, these tips will make your day easier.

  1. Top Tech Tools for Associations

Here’s what our team is raving about right now.

  1. 21 Tips for Better Board Meetings

What happens when 10 executive directors brainstorm a better board meeting? You get this post.

  1. 9 Tips to Recruit and Retain Volunteers

How to bring in those volunteers and then keep them engaged.

  1. 20 Key Takeaways from the Book: “The Will to Govern Well”

We love a good book!

  1. 3 Things I Learned About Membership

Lessons from one year in membership services.

  1. 7 Evergreen Ideas to Engage Volunteers

This is our very first post on the IMI blog and it’s worth repeating!

Do you like list posts or do you prefer a traditional blog post? Share with us your favorites in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Should I Say Something?

2015-9-29 Should I Say Something
Image Credit: Benjamin Child

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a group meeting nervously tapping your foot and wondering if you should speak up with your idea. Or, worse yet, the collective sigh as you asked a question left you wondering if you spoke out of turn.

How do you know if it’s the right time to share your idea?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before speaking up in a meeting.

Should I Say Something?

  • Is the idea on topic and on task?
    • If it’s on topic, on task, and an appropriate time to speak up, go ahead and share!
    • If you plan to say, “This is off topic, but …” you should plan to bring up the idea later. You want your contributions help to achieve the goal of the meeting – that will always help you look good.
  • Does the concern or idea affect the entire group?
    • If you want to try a new process but it might affect others, such as cause them to receive emails about the change or affect how their normal procedures work, it’s definitely a team concern, so speak up!
    • If the question is only for your supervisor and doesn’t affect the rest of the team, it’s likely a personal question in disguise.
  • Can the question be answered quickly in an email?
    • Send an email unless it’s an FAQ others are concerned about, too.
  • Has someone else already expressed the concern?
    • Make sure that your question covers new territory or asks for clarification on a particular point. If you’re confused about details, it’s likely others are, too.
  • Does it require a long explanation?
    • If the idea can’t be explained simply, the idea probably isn’t fully developed. Refine your pitch to be brief and focused on the goal of the meeting.
  • Does it require sharing confidential information?
  • Will it put a team member in a negative light?
    • Don’t throw your teammate under the proverbial bus – especially in a group meeting. Carefully craft your comments to be solutions focused before you share your idea. As always, a good rule of thumb is that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Still unsure? During an appropriate time in the meeting, such as the Q&A at the end, ask, “Do we have time to cover [topic]?” Keep this request just as brief and simple as that. Be sure to wait for the leader to respond before you go any further.

Remember, the idea doesn’t have to “die” just because it isn’t shared in the meeting. Great ideas that are off-topic are still great ideas. Make a note of those sidebar, off-topic ideas and share them with the appropriate person after the meeting.

Often, it’s less about when you say something and more about how you say it. It helps to think about how you want people to perceive you. Do you want to be seen as being solutions oriented, a problem solver and a marvel of efficiency? Shape your questions and comments around those ideas.

Whether you share in the meeting or afterwards via email, make sure you pass along your innovative ideas. Your team needs your valuable perspective!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

How to Unsend an Email

Image Credit: Aleksi Tappura

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

For all those times when you:

  • Forgot the attachment
  • Sent the email to the wrong “Jennifer”
  • Found a glorious typo seconds too late
  • Reconsidered your response to that critical email
  • Neglected the most important piece of information and needed to send a second email
  • Accidentally clicked “Reply All”

And wished you could undo it. This post is for you.

How to Unsend an Email … Sort Of.

Using Rules in Outlook, you can set up “deferred delivery” of an email such that after you click “Send” your email will sit in the Outbox for a time before it actually sends.

During that time, if you suddenly realize you forgot the attachment, etc., you can re-open the email in your Outbox, make changes, and click Send again.

While this function won’t actually bring the email back after it has been delivered, it does give you a small window of time to fix a mistake.

If you use Gmail, you can enable the Undo Send feature.

To set up deferred delivery in Outlook:

  1. Click on Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts.

manage rules

  1. Click on New Rule.
  1. At the pop up, select “Apply rule on messages I send” > Click Next.

apply rule

  1. At the “Which condition(s) do you want to check?” screen, do not select anything. Click Next.
  1. Click “Yes” when prompted to apply the rule to every message you send.
  1. Select “Defer delivery by a number of minutes.” In the Step 2 box, click the “number of minutes” to specify how many minutes to defer delivery. Click Next.
    A one minute delay has served me well. If you find that one minute isn’t enough time you can always modify the rule to boost the delay to two minutes or more.

delay minutes

  1. On the next screen, you can set up any exceptions to the rule here. If not, click Next.
  1. Name your rule, select “Turn on this rule” and click Finish!
    You will want to keep the name simple, such as “Defer delivery by 1 minute.”

finish rule
If you don’t want to delay all of your emails, check out the first part of this post for how to delay a single email.

Do you have any other email tips? Please share in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Theft Prevention Measures at Conferences

Image Credit: By Alejandro Escamilla
Image Credit: By Alejandro Escamilla

By Valerie Sprague, AMS Manager

Things can get hectic when attending or working onsite at a conference, not to mention the numerous distractions you encounter. In the blink of an eye someone can grab an unattended item (i.e. laptop, mobile device, etc.) for which your chances of recovery may be very small. You might feel a false sense of security while among your peers at a conference but you can’t forget about all of the other individuals who might be walking around a hotel or conference center.

Here are some tips on theft prevention measures to take while traveling to or attending a conference:

  • Do not leave your device(s) unattended. This may seem like common sense but it’s so easy to think “I’ll be right back” or “I’m just stepping away for a second.” Don’t risk that your device(s) aren’t where you left them when you return from a quick coffee break or a trip to the restroom.
  • Use a theft deterrent device. Consider purchasing a theft deterrent device for extra safety and security. Something like a cable security lock for a laptop would be a good investment that allows you to easily secure your laptop to a fixed item which will hopefully deter any theft attempts. Just don’t forget to hold on to the key!
  • Secure your device(s) in a locked room when not in use. Make sure to keep rooms, such as your conference storage space, locked when you are not present. Especially overnight if this is where you opt to store your device(s) when registration is closed. The same thing applies to leaving them in your hotel room unattended. It might be a good idea to use that cable lock, an available hotel room safe or to just keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room while you’re out so that nobody enters your room unexpectedly.
  • Be vigilant when traveling with your device(s). Don’t forget your laptop when packing your bag up after going through security. Also make sure not to let your travel bag with your devices out of your sight when in the airport. Don’t leave it in the overhead bin of the plane either! The same reminders apply with transportation methods while traveling, such as taxi cabs and airport shuttles.
  • Protect your data. Make sure to password protect all of your devices using strong passwords. And when able, encrypt your local files and folders; or consider storing these sensitive documents someplace other than on your device while traveling (i.e. Dropbox). In the event your device does end up in the hands of someone it shouldn’t, you will want these added layers of security. And you will also want to consider making a back-up of the data from your device prior to traveling.

Remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

How to Improve Your Association’s Finances

Image Credit: Canva

By Anna Morris, account associate

The Association Management Companies Institute just rolled out a report that spell$ big new$ for the a$$ociation management industry. Err… sorry, appears the “s” key on our keyboard is broken, but we’ll just replace it with a $ sign, which is exactly what the July 2015 report is about: more $$$ for associations managed by an AMC. (Learn more about what an AMC is here.)

Commissioned by AMCI, an independent researcher from Brigham Young University found that associations using AMCs have stronger financial performance than those that do not. In fact, the report found that “AMC-managed associations experience more than three times the growth in net assets and 31 percent more growth in net revenue, regardless of size and tax status” (here). The study surveyed more than 160 associations with budgets ranging from $500,000 to $7.5 million, which is a good indicator that the study’s results are applicable across associations of different types and sizes. This is huge news for an industry where many associations still shy away from AMCs because they fear the cost or lack of added value.

The research is in: Using an AMC can more than triple your assets. Check out more info on the research study here or see what IMI could bring to your association here.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

How to Get the Most Out of Professional Development

Image Credit: Ariana Escobar

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

Whether it’s a one hour webinar, a conference, or a certification program, professional development is an important investment of our time, resources and attention. How do you make sure you are getting the most out of your investment?

Team-Up

If you’re attending an event, find out if any colleagues plan to attend as well. For the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, IMI sent four staff members which allowed us to take advantage of a variety of the concurrent sessions and maximize the information we learned. Going as a team also helps to alleviate that disappointment when you simply can’t make it to a session on your “wish list.” You can coordinate schedules to see if someone is able to sit in the session for you.

Debrief

Immediately following the event, get together with attendees and discuss the highlights. Talking through the information can really help to solidify concepts and flesh out ideas. Also, hearing how others experienced the event provides “fresh” eyes on what we experienced. Don’t forget to make a list of any action items that come up as part of the discussion. If you didn’t attend with colleagues, you can journal or write a blog post for a similar effect.

Here are just a few questions you can use to generate discussion:

  • What excited you?
  • What was helpful?
  • What needs further research?
  • What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
  • What did or didn’t work for you as an attendee?
  • How did the speaker make you feel?
  • What made the session engaging?
  • Would you attend next year?
  • What would you do differently?
  • Who did you meet?

Share

Make sure that you share the knowledge and ideas with the entire team – not just those who attended. IMI best practice is to share meeting notes and any resources with the entire team so that everyone can benefit. Get in the habit of taking good notes! If you take notes the old-fashioned way, like I do, type up the important concepts after the meeting. During a webinar, screenshots are helpful to capture visual resources and quickly summarize key points.

Apply

Applying the new information is the most crucial part. One thing I like to do is carve out a small block of time following the meeting to make the first steps on those action items or to schedule further time to research. Perhaps you need to redesign your Twitter header, set an appointment with your insurance agent, schedule a staff meeting to discuss a new process, or research a new association management system. Break any large tasks into smaller, manageable tasks. At next year’s conference you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

Stay tuned for a list of our top ASAE sessions and more about what we learned. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your professional development opportunities? Let us know in the comments!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

Make An Impact with Membership Materials

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Jalene Bowersmith, Account Manager

These ideas are inspired by the session “Making an Impact with Your Membership Materials: What Works, What Doesn’t” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented by Denise Gavilan, Walter Kim, Theresa Kramer-Burgess and Cecilia Cortes-Earle.

Our members are bombarded by information every day from articles, TV and social media. Many people see more than 350 marketing messages per day.  How do you make sure that your membership communications resonate with members and don’t get lost in the clutter?

Here are 9 quick tips to help your next message to members make an impact.

  • Keep it small and impactful. Choose the top points – no more than three.
  • Make it about the reader. Focus less on your association and more on the reader – their results, concerns and solutions.
  • Focus on benefits – not features. Need a refresher about the difference between features and benefits? Read this.
  • Always answer the question for the reader, “What do members value the organization for?”
  • Vary your methods of delivery, but always keep the message consistent and authentic across all channels.
  • Adapt your message to the target audience. A member who is new to the association may need different information than a seasoned member. Make sure you know who your target is and how to best reach them.
  • Collect and use your testimonials. For great tips on the best ways to use your testimonials check out this post.
  • Read the copy out loud to see if it flows. If it’s awkward to read aloud it will be awkward for your readers, too.
  • Every message needs a clear call to action. Always ask: 1) What do I want the reader to do? (Register by a specific date, contact their legislator, “Like” the Facebook page, etc.), and 2) How do I want them to do it? (click a link, contact a staff member, register in person, etc.)
Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.