Extroverts: Save Your Strength At a Conference

Image Credit: Canva

Image Credit: Canva

By Meredith Parker, account associate

I’m the type of person who would reach the brink of insanity only days after being shipwrecked alone on a desert island. As an extrovert, I feel the most at ease when I am having meaningful exchanges with other people.

When I was informed that I would be attending my association’s annual conference within weeks of beginning my new position, I was ecstatic. The idea of meeting and greeting hundreds of people at the registration desk seemed like a great way to keep myself engaged and entertained as well as play to my strength of intrapersonal communication.

At 7:00am on the first day of the conference, I made my registration desk debut with gusto, making small talk and showering smiles upon every person who came into my presence. By 5:00pm, my feet ached in my too-small shoes and my skull was throbbing. After closing down Registration, all I could think about was fueling up with some hot food. I went to the Exhibition Hall and filled my tiny plate with an impressively large selection of eggrolls, sliders, and ravioli noodles. I had just taken a steaming bite of an eggroll when an attendee, alerted to my role by my STAFF name tag, tapped me on the shoulder and began to ask some conference-related questions.

At that moment, I could see her lips moving, but the words emitting forth were garbled together like the sounds coming out of a voice-changer toy. I sloshed through the mud of fatigue enveloping my cerebral cortex in an effort to understand what she was saying. I knew that the right words were there, but they were struggling to break free from behind a layer of gunk that had built up over 10 hours of expending energy through beatific smiles and energetic follow-up responses.

I composed myself and after a few moments of contemplation and was able to adequately respond to the member’s concerns. As soon as I had sent her on her way, I took my plate of food and went upstairs to my room. Sitting there, polishing off sliders and ravioli, I thought about the exchange.

Though I am an extrovert, I had never before reached my limit of interpersonal interaction; however, my first day of conference work taught me that even extroverts need to reserve their energy so they are able to provide a high level of customer service throughout a long day.

When registration opened at 7:00am on the second day of the conference, I was still warm and friendly in my exchanges with conference attendees, but I toned down the small talk and giant smiles. My colleagues and I also took advantage of low-traffic periods to take small breaks in the staff office. Even as an extrovert, I found that I needed those 5 or 10 minute periods of “me” time in order to recharge.

Utilizing this strategy for the rest of the conference allowed me to meet members with an appropriate level of customer service while still taking care of myself. I advise all personality types to be intentional about rationing their energy while they are at a conference so they are able to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Have you ever found yourself “hitting a wall” at an event? What tips have you found that help to maintain a healthy balance during a conference?

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

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Creating a Culture of Success

2015.5.16 Success

By Lee Campbell, account manager

I attended the Meeting Planners International Winter Conference and had the chance to learn about “Strive for Five: Creating a Culture of Success” from Paul Miller and Dawn Daria. Here are some great takeaways from that session.

When mistakes are made people often say “I dropped the ball.” In creating a culture for success what is important is what happens after the ball drops: Are you ready to bounce back? Strategies for success must include strategies for when things don’t go as planned.

Tools for Creating a Culture of Success

Foster Relationships

  • Talk with integrity – say what you mean and mean what you say
  • Listen to each other – always consider their point of view
  • Communicate eye to eye
  • Build a personal connection
  • Get in the trenches – connect with your team regularly

Personality testing is an essential investment for employers to ensure a culture for success. Get to know your team and how they work best. Consider including regular “getting to know you” questions in your team meetings to learn how to work better together.

Stay Positive

Ensure Understanding

  • Speak face to face – avoid emails or texting when tone can be misunderstood
  • Offer tangible trails of instruction
  • Consider different learning styles –what is clear and straightforward to some members of your team may not be helpful to others

Practice Healthy Conflict

  • Foster positive resolution strategies
  • Appreciate different personalities
  • Understand each individual’s approach
  • Work towards resolution quickly – address problems as soon as possible so positive change can happen sooner rather than later

If leaders create a culture of success, it makes hard conversations much easier. Set the expectation of how conflict will be resolved. Steps should be clear and considerate of all parties involved.

When considering your coaching style, leaders should start with encouragement before getting straight to the point of a problem. Trust is built when team members know that their positive efforts will be recognized as much as their mistakes. In your debriefing meetings, praise the successes in addition to discussing solutions to pain points.

For more strategies for success by focusing on the strengths of your team:

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

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Staff Spotlight: Angela Allen

Staff spotlight

In this feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Angela Allen

AngelaAccount Associate

  • My favorite aspect of association management is:
    • Seeing the members’ passion for a cause and helping them turn their ideas and ‘what-ifs’ into reality.
  • On my desk right now:
    • Coffee, my bike helmet and the webinar schedule for this week.
  • My favorite blogs:
  • My media mix:
    • Pandora –Tom Petty, John Hiatt and ‘Shake It Off’ radio are my favorites.
  • What I’m reading:
    • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  • Who to follow on social media:
    • @ilovecycling, @DurhamBulls and @katescraftcave
  • What I do when not at work:
    • Cycling, hiking and hanging out with friends and family.  Anything outdoors!
  • If I weren’t in association management, I’d:
    • Be traveling the world and meeting the locals.  I’d love to do a bike tour across Europe one day!
  • Favorite quote:
    • “So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” – Norton Juster

For more about Angela, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

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


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Top 5 Online Tools

2017.1.31 top 5 online tools


By Angela Allen, account associate

Conversions are the name of the game in 2017. It doesn’t matter if we’re figuring the number of miles to run because we signed up for a 5k as a New Year’s resolution, thinking about the leadership of our country or planning the next call with a client in another time-zone … conversions are everywhere! Thinking about this blog, I started to think about my favorite on-line tools and how they, too, focus on conversions. A few months ago, my co-workers and I met to discuss some of the tools we found useful and this seemed like the perfect time to blog about them. Here the top five tools that have made every day work life more efficient:

Time and Date Calculator

Want to know what date is six months from now or two years, 33 days ago? Timeanddate.com has a tool that allows you to add or subtract days to any date.

Time Zone Calculator

Worldtimebuddy.com has become my best buddy as of late. If your clients are in multiple time zones, this tool quickly lets you see equivalent times in multiple time zones of your choosing. Scheduling calls with clients around the world is much faster now!


Needing a creative color scheme for your next presentation or want to match a graphic to your organization’s logo? This quick, online color picker tool lets you find the hex code for any point on the color palette and converts it to RGB numbers, too. It even gives you the option to find colors that coordinate nicely and are eye catching.


Who doesn’t love a good design? Canva.com provides a robust library of designs and graphics that will help you convert those drab clip-art announcements into exciting pieces that your clients will pick up and read. From social media posts to marketing materials, this tool has it all.


If you’ve been looking for a way to convert your paper to-do list to an online one, workflowy.com, may be the answer. While I haven’t tried this one, personally, it was recommended by a colleague and definitely worth sharing.

These online tools have made our lives easier and hopefully they will make yours better, too… and a bit more colorful!

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

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How to Write a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Hotel Services

How to write an RFP

By Lee Campbell, account manager

As simple as it sounds, writing a Request for Proposal properly can save time and offer invaluable information to a vendor who is trying to gather information in offering services that fit your needs.  When providing thorough information, it gives the vendor knowledge of your organization which helps them understand your overall objectives.

The following are items that should be included within your preferred spreadsheet document of request to ensure a respectful and fair quote for hotel services:

  1. Provide basic organization information
    1. Full association name and acronym
    2. Address
    3. Website address
    4. All appropriate phone numbers
  2. Offer specific days or patterns of flexibility for dates
  3. Establish attendee attendance numbers
  4. Offer sleeping room requirements
    1. Day pattern
    2. Room type needs
    3. Number of rooms for each peak night
    4. Total rooms requested
  5. Offer a tentative schedule of events
    1. List by day
    2. Include event names
    3. Basic room setup requirements
  6. Concessions (Desires of the organization)
    1. What are your “Must Haves”
      1. Keep in mind for negotiation:
        1. What would you “Like to Have”
        2. What are your “Tradables”
    2. Request a rebate of each room sold back to the master account
    3. Request a commissionable rate back to your organization
  7. Offer historical information
    1. Dates of past events
    2. City locations of past events
    3. Facility used of past events
    4. Total sleeping room pick up
    5. Total registered attendees

Using this basic format in providing information to a hotel vendor will save time and decrease the amount of back and forth questions asked as they put together a proposal that will be a fair start to negotiating a final agreement.  Remember, everything is negotiable!

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

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Staff Spotlight: Deb Doepp

Staff spotlightIn this new feature, we ask our team members some quick, fun questions to show a little spotlight on the staff that makes IMI great.

Deb Doepp

DebAccount Associate

  • My favorite aspect of association management is:
    • I love how IMI has such a variety of clients with so many similarities and differences. I also adore that IMI works in a team-friendly way, supporting each other as the work ebbs and flows.
  • On my desk right now:
    • My water bottle, a cup of chamomile tea, my iPhone, paper for notetaking when I get a call and a tin of Altoids
  • My favorite blogs
    • Tatertots & Jello – This is a fantastic DIY blog with a lot of ideas on décor.
    • Young House Love – this is a husband/wife team that has blogged over the years about their various home transformations. They even came out with a home décor line in Target and Home Depot.
    • Suburban Turmoil – She is a mom Blogger out of Nashville, Tenn. She’s fantastically funny and totally down-to-earth. She tells it like it is and makes me laugh with nearly every post.
  • My media mix:
    • Since my trek to work takes about an hour each way, I’ve been listening to NPR quite a bit. Otherwise, I find out what is going on through Facebook or my local TV station.
  • What I’m reading:
    • Nothing right at the moment, but I would like to finish J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series. The first book (The Cuckoo’s Calling) was great!
  • Who to follow on social media:
    • @kellycreates – She makes videos of herself doing calligraphy. It’s beautiful!
    • @ivenoven – This is a bakery in Indonesia that makes the most amazing cakes. They look unreal.
    • @scarymommy – A go-to for feeling like we’re all part of this parenting team.
    • @brenebrown – Author of the amazing book, “Daring Greatly.” It changed my life.
  • What I do when not at work:
    • I spend a lot of my time as shuttle service for my three children. They’re in three different activities as well as three different schools, so it can get crazy. My husband and I try to get a weekly date night, but sometimes that isn’t possible.
  • If I weren’t in association management, I’d:
    • I would probably be working directly with a non-profit. This is why working for IMI is such a great fit for me.
  • Favorite quote:
    • “I broke up with pink. Yellow is my new favorite color.” – My daughter, Madelyn at the age of four. To me, this reminds me of how uncomplicated the mind of a child is – and that we should strive for this mentality each and every day.

For more about Deb, don’t forget to check out her full bio on the IMI website!

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

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A New Career After 50 – Joining an AMC

_so long_-3

Lucy Kucmierz, account associate

They say most people change jobs more than ten times between 18 and 42. That was me! I have been a teacher, office manager and church facility manager. Those were just my paid jobs; on the side I raised three children and was involved with school and county PTAs. All the time I was learning and gaining more skills that I wanted to put to use. I went back to school and became a certified non-profit manager, but I still wanted something more. It seemed that an office routine was not challenging enough or using the skills that I had gained over my 30+ year career path. I had a choice to make: I could continue down the same path and not be challenged or find a new career that would challenge me and provide opportunity for growth. I chose the latter.

Changing jobs can be difficult, but changing careers can be a challenge. Before I could change careers I needed to evaluate what I liked about my current job and what I was truly good at. Then I thought about what I wanted in a new career. I came to the conclusion that I needed a job with flexibility, one that would provide me with a sense of accomplishment, be professionally fulfilling, make use of my current skills and allow me to grow in new areas. I enjoyed working in an office environment and with non-profit organizations, so I thought that was a good place to begin my search.

After months of looking and interviews someone recommended I consider IMI Association Executives. I met and interviewed with the president of IMI, Linda Owens, CAE, and was so impressed by what I saw happening in this company that I knew this is where I wanted to be. This was a place where I could use the skills I already had acquired and continue to learn new skills. Since becoming an account associate at IMI I have gained new skills, am continuously learning, and most of all I have become part of a group that encourages everyone to succeed. In addition, I always wanted to travel around the country and for our clients I have been able to visit Colorado, D.C., New Orleans, and Atlanta!

Every day when I get up, I look forward to coming to work because I know that a new adventure is waiting for me, whether it be talking to a member, solving a problem, planning a webinar, or learning a new database. This career change was the correct path for me to follow at this point in my life. If you’re looking for a challenging but rewarding career in non-profits, I hope you’ll consider association management. There’s nothing quite like it.


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

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Membership Renewals

membership renewals

Image Credit: Canva

Stevie Kernick, owner emeritus and account manager

If your association’s membership year coincides with the calendar year then chances are that you are about to engage, or already are engaged, in the annual membership renewal cycle.

Let’s assume that the Membership Committee has already completed an assessment of the association’s dues structure and, if changes were approved, the membership was duly notified six months in advance of the effectiveness date.

Initiate your renewal campaign a minimum of 60 days before the end of the association’s membership year. For a large organization, the date might be 90 days prior to year-end.

Besides the necessary mechanics of preparing your AMS for the new dues year, updating the association’s hard copy renewal forms and new member applications, take time to define a strategy for retaining 100 percent of the current year’s members. It’s OK to be optimistic and to make this your goal.

Step one of your renewal strategy should include listing all of the association’s accomplishments from the current year. Depending on the goods and services provided, these successes could include total number of members for the current year, retention percentage, number of new members, conferences held and registration totals, webinars or other educational programs offered, papers produced and published, media recognition, legislative achievements, speaking engagements completed, financial successes, to name a few. Brag a little!

Move on to your step-by-step membership campaign. Think about your goals and expectations as you would any other marketing campaign for the association.  Consider using a grid that allows you to clearly see each step and quantify the results:

2016.11.22 membership chart

This grid should be expanded with multiple, scheduled touches until your retention goals are reached.

When considering the distribution method, be sure to include at least one old-fashioned, U.S. postal service mailing.  This will capture organizations (assuming organizational memberships) whose key contact for your association has left the company with emails to that person dumping into an unattended inbox.

Before deactivating those final non-renewed members, engage the entire Membership Committee and Board of Directors in a telephone campaign. Generate a script covering the key reasons for renewal and questions to pose during the call. Parse out the names and phone numbers of the remaining non-renewed members with a “contact by” date so you can assess the success of these calls.

The value of this personal contact cannot be overstated. In addition to the high touch approach this signals to the uncommitted member, it’s an opportunity for leadership to engage with members and learn about their needs and expectations of the association. If the reason for a non-renewal is because needs are not being met, that is a strong message back to the leadership that needs further review.

Whether or not a personal call results in a renewal, the value of the conversation can be, as they say, “priceless.”

Aim high and settle for nothing less!

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

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My First 90 Days at an AMC

2016.11.8 my first 90 days

By Meredith Parker, account associate

If I were being honest with you, I would have to admit that I had never heard of an Association Management Company (AMC) before I happened upon IMI Association Executives in my post-college job search.

I am the youngest member on the IMI staff; at the ripe old age of 22, I have just graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I will be the first to admit that I am still growing into my shiny, new adult shoes; however, I already feel that working at an association for the past 90 days has given me the type of fulfillment that I have always desired and will always crave in my daily work.

Ever since my childhood, I have completed countless hours of service through church, school, and various service organizations. When I first began college, I put so much pressure on myself to succeed academically that I did not take time for service work. After failing the third test in my Chemistry class, and expending countless hours of fruitless work on this subject, I had a life-affirming, crystallizing moment: I realized that I needed to find work that impassioned me and also for which I had an aptitude.

I quickly joined Student United Way, a volunteer organization on campus, and it felt like coming home. Completing service with this group allowed me to use my communication skills to connect with individual people and also helped me make a corner of the world a little better, a goal that has driven me for my entire life. I knew, then, that I wanted service to play a key role in my life.

I am thankful that the stars aligned and I was given the opportunity to work at IMI because it is founded upon the fundamental principle of service. In my work for my client, the International Lactation Consultant Association, my efforts serve to ameliorate global health through empowering lactation consultants to continue, improve, and expand their breastfeeding practice, which is the cause that excites me about coming to work every day. In addition, I have found an amazing community of like-minded, service-oriented individuals from which to learn. Since we are a company that manages many associations, everyone in our office has different work experiences and can offer unique insight into every topic from the best way to run a webinar to broader career advice. I feel like we are less a group of random people who happen to work together than a passionate, collaborative, caring community.

I am still a “spring chicken,” as we say in the South. As a fresh college graduate, I know that I have a lot to learn about being an adult, being an employee, and planning a career. It can be intimidating to look at the decades that I have in front of me and wonder how I can live my life to be fulfilling for me; however, instead of being afraid, I am excited. I think that IMI is a fertile field to plant my roots; I can’t wait to see how much I grow here.

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

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Preparing Your Financials for the End of the Year

Image Credit: Canva

By Adrian Emerson, accounting associate

Preparing for the end of the year can be hard, especially as the office begins to empty for the holidays. What can you do to make your end of year be smoother? Start as early as you feasibly can. I recommend starting to prepare at the beginning of your fourth quarter. Waiting until the last minute can delay the process and you don’t want to start the new year off on the wrong foot.

Here is a list of items that you should look at during your fourth quarter that you will probably need at the end of the year.

The first thing you should look at is your budget for the remainder of the year. Look for any budget items that are still outstanding, like an unfinished project, or any items that you have overspent on that will need to be cut back on until the new year starts.

After looking at any outstanding budget items you should start pulling data to prepare your budget for the next year. When pulling data I recommend pulling a copy of the current year’s financials and at least one previous year’s financials for comparison of trends. While you are planning for the next year, you should also consider any large scale projects you wish to complete in the next year or future years and start budgeting for them. As well, you should also make a note of where you want to be financially at the end of the next year, such as if you want to have a certain amount of funds in savings.

Review Current Year Financials for Errors:
You should also internally review your financial statements for any potential errors or odd items that might need explaining. Any items that look off should be researched and corrected, if needed. You should also make sure you have all appropriate documents for all transactions, if required by your financial policies. While you are completing your review you should verify any deferred revenue or prepaid expenses and make sure you have the correct information regarding which year or period the item is for so that it is posted correctly when that year or period begins.

The next task is to make a list of all the 1099s and W-2s you will need to submit at the beginning of the next year. Remember these forms are based on payments made during the current year, not bills received. Once your list is complete you should verify that you have a copy of a W-9 or W-4 for each individual or organization. Any forms you are missing should be requested as soon as possible so you don’t miss the IRS submission deadline in January. I also recommend verifying the mailing address for any individual whom you haven’t made a payment to in over six months.

Researching CPAs:
If you don’t have a CPA or aren’t planning on using the same one you used last year, you should look into new options early. Various CPAs offer different tax preparation and financial review, preparation and auditing services. You should choose a CPA who offers the right services for your organization and get references and quotes up front. As soon as you select the right CPA for your organization, go ahead and have a contract written and verify what documentation the CPA will need to complete their services. You should have said documentation available to them as soon as possible, once the new year has begun.

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

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