3 Ways to Avoid Convention Staff Burnout – At Conference

2015-11-17 burnout - during
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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 – During the Conference

Sleep is critical … if you can get it. You’re sleeping in an unfamiliar bed with unfamiliar sounds and you’re probably stressed about a million things that could potentially happen the next day. You also have to worry about missing your 5 am (or earlier) wake-up call. Use the first night to get acclimated to your room so hopefully you can sleep better the rest of the week. Adequate amounts of sleep will not only give you energy to last through the long days, but also helps recharge a positive outlook.

Keep your caffeine intake in check. You’re tired so your first thought is to have an extra cup of coffee or can of soda. It may not kick in as soon as you need it so you pound another one. Next thing you know you’ve had more caffeine in one day then you should have in a week. Increase your water intake instead. I used to always carry a water bottle but found I wasn’t drinking as much as I normally do so I’ve found it helpful to find times throughout the day where I can drink 8 – 12 ounces in one sitting. Find what system works best for you to stay hydrated and refreshed.

Know that you can’t control everything. There will be mishaps and attendees may get upset with you. In the moment it may be hard to keep your cool but afterwards take a deep breath, take a 5 minute walk and get back in there. You can’t control everything, so how you deal with the situations that arise and how you let it affect you is the important part. Don’t let the stress eat away at you. Focus on what is going well! Allow yourself to celebrate the “small” victories, too. They add up.

Don’t forget to check out our pre-conference tips for avoiding burnout!

What are your tips for avoiding burnout during an event? Let us know 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.

 

5 Tips to Avoid Being an Email Offender

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Whitney Thweatt, Account Manager

With so many emails flooding our inboxes each day, it’s important to follow some email etiquette to keep our communications meaningful for the reader. Before you hit “send” next, check out this list of 5 Tips to Avoid Being an Email Offender.

1.) Acknowledge receipt. If you were having a conversation with someone and they handed you a report along with an assignment, would you say “I’ll take care of this” or “I’ll review and let you know if I have questions” or a similar response? Practice this same conversation with email. Acknowledge receipt so the sender knows the email has been received and read. If the email requires follow-up before you can provide an answer, indicate such. An exception to this is if the sender includes “No Reply Necessary.”

2.) Respond to the entire email. Have you ever sent an email that included multiple questions, only to receive a response stating “yes”? If an email asks several questions, be sure to respond to each one.

3. ) Monitor your use of reply all. Do not use reply all when only the sender needs your response, but only if all recipients would benefit from the response. Avoid generic responses such as “thanks” or “me too” via reply all.

4.) Get to the point. Keep emails brief and to the point. State the purpose of the email within the first two sentences. Consider using bulleted lists instead of lengthy text.

5.) Use a clear subject line. Make your email stand out in the clutter by including a subject line that gets to the point. Ensure that the subject line matches the subject.

For a fun look into the “culture” of email, click here to watch “Email in Real Life.”

What are the common email offenses you see? 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.

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.

Automatic Renewals for Associations

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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.

TED Talks for Associations

Image Credit: Mary Pi
Image Credit: Mari Pi

By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager

Looking for new and different inspiration for your associations? Check out a TED Talk.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, TED Talks are Technology, Entertainment, and Design presentations under the concept of “Ideas Worth Spreading.” (More on TED Talks here.)

Most of the Talks are about 20min long, which is the perfect length to view over lunch and refresh your mind for the rest of the day.

While TED Talks aren’t specifically about associations we think the concepts can provide inspiration for any organization.

8 Ted Talks to Inspire Associations

  1. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
  2. Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?
  3. Melinda Gates: What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola
  4. Michael Porter: Why business can be good at solving social problems
  5. Roselinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader
  6. Beth Kanter: Doing Good Online
  7. Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From
  8. Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration

What are your favorite TED Talks? Let us know in the comment section 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.

 

How to Improve Your Association’s Finances

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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

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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.

Race for Relevance

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By Whitney Thweatt, account manager

As an association management professional, I find myself constantly wondering how to improve the association and member benefits. In an age of almost limitless free resources available online, associations are faced with the daily challenge to show value and relevance to both current and potential members. What are some strategies association professionals can take to address this challenge?

The book, Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations, by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE, proposes five fundamental changes in the way we think about association governance and management:

  1. Overhaul the governance model and committee operations.
  2. Empower the CEO and leverage staff expertise.
  3. Precisely define your member market.
  4. Rationalize programs and services and focus on those that have the maximum effect.
  5. Build robust technology framework.

Not sure where to start? Here are five high impact ideas to implement in your association.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Association Relevant:

  1. Members and volunteers face a work/personal life dilemma. “I don’t have time” really means “I have better things to do with my time.” Volunteers expect a return on investment of time so make sure you are offering some short-time volunteer opportunities as well as ones that are worthwhile to the volunteer.
  2. The board should focus on potential and possibilities; staff on implementation. Ideally you should have a competency-based board made up of five or six people.
  3. Specialization is key. Associations should focus on their strengths instead of trying to be all things to all members. Members will narrow their memberships to those with highest return on investment.
  4. Concentrate on the products that deliver the most value. Unused services and unneeded programs have no value. Prune obsolete services and your message becomes simpler.
  5. Every association function can be enhanced or performed via technology. Not only can automating some tasks free up staff time for other important member projects, it may also increase involvement. Find out what technologies and services your members are already using and integrate current member resources into those systems.

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.

Loose Lips Sink Ships … And Client Relationships

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Image Credit: Canva

By Stevie Kernick,  owner emeritus, account manager

No matter what your generational representation, you have likely heard the phrase, “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” coined during World War II as part of a general campaign of American propaganda to warn servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk concerning secure information that might be of use to the enemy.

So, might you ask, what does this have to do with associations?

With any long-term client affiliation, the association staff working with that association develops relationships with members and, particularly, those members in leadership positions with whom staff is apt to have frequent interactions. Those client-staff relationship can often move beyond discussion of the day-to-day operations of the association into more personal conversations on family activities, birthdays, weddings or vacations.

So far, this is fairly benign.

But what about the member who wants to talk with you about a negative interaction or exchange with another member? Your antenna should go up … but does it?

It’s easy to get pulled into negativity. Perhaps you also have had a similar negative response to that same member, or even another member. And since you are intimately sharing information already, it’s easy to add to the conversation with your own experiences with members, all of which seems most innocuous at the moment.

The funny thing about relationships, however, is that a riff in the relationship between two members can be resolved almost as quickly as the initial grievance occurred, and a few months later those two members are suddenly congenial and conversive and you are hoping your negative comments are not remembered or, at the least, not being repeated.

Suddenly the confidential relationship you thought you shared with that member or board member is in question. Might your “loose lips” comments be shared with other members of leadership? The board president? Your immediate supervisor? How might that impact the client’s perception of your management company and its ability to maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality?

You are starting to sweat and so you should be.

The advice is quite simple. Do NOT under any circumstances allow yourself to be drawn into negative conversations about any association members. If you find yourself a party to such a negative conversation, excuse yourself and make a hasty retreat.

You can politely and professionally suggest that any problems between two or more members be directed to the association president for action.

Don’t let your “loose lips” be the reason your management company loses a client or you lose your job.

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.