Why Association Conference Events Remain Relevant in the Age of Social Networking
At the best of times, an association or related business can find budgeting for association conference events. (More so when their revenue channels are directly linked to the event.) However, how are such expenses justified when times are lean? To be frank, if the conference or event is big enough, can your organization afford to miss out?
Association conference events have many benefits, but not all are made use of by attendees. This is often because they got caught up in a small area of focus, such as certain educational sessions if an association executive attendee or what they will do at the trade show if a business. There is much more to make use of from both perspectives, however. Either way, a conference offers elements you just can't get elsewhere, even during the digital age.
3 Benefits of Association Conference Events Not to be Ignored
Do you remember when getting together with your colleagues for a coffee was a “share"? How about when a sincere laugh and friendly pat on the back counted as a “like"? Oh, for the days when a “friend request" was an introduction, firm handshake, and business card exchange.
As invaluable as social networking has become, there remains much to be said about the value of face time with people (and I do not mean the Apple video app.) No matter how reliant organization have become on social media to spread the word of what’s important to them, association conference events still have value.
Don’t just take my word for it, however. Let’s quickly look at three critical benefits your organization may draw from association conference events. In no particular order:
Benefit 1: Networking, Networking, Networking
This is one of the foremost benefits both association executives and attending businesses bring up for attending association conference events because it applies to both groups. Association executives look to meet and share information and the like with their peers in other organizations, whereas organizations doing business with associations see it as a chance to drum up commerce.
But is everyone making the most of the networking opportunities?
Exhibitors who do not leave their booths to mingle with association executives are missing opportunities to put their product or service in front of their market. They are also dropping the ball if they fail to follow-up on any leads.
Similarly, association executives who stick to the same old crowd they talk with every association conference event (or, worse still, with their coworkers who are also attending) miss out on new opportunities. Refusing to mingle outside of your usual peer group means the chance to make new, valuable relationships passes by.
Make the most of the networking opportunities presented by association conference events by expanding your network rather than just strengthening it. The nature of social media networks makes this sort of experience difficult because you are often "trapped" within a web of your friends, followers, etc. that does not always make approaching strangers appropriate or comfortable.
Benefit 2: Exposure to New and Unfamiliar Expertise
Associations often exist in a bubble defined by their own specific industry and purposes. They are focused on their particular goals. Attending wider association conference events can make them aware of topics and people that otherwise may have escaped their attention.
This is especially true when it comes to speakers and seminars. You can draw otherwise inaccessible value from a speaker or seminar that speaks to associations at large and not just your segment. Don't be afraid to attend the sessions you don't outright understand or believe are relevant to your role with your organization.
By expanding your perspective and knowledge beyond your comfort zone, you may gain new insight into how others interact with and think about your organization. You may also gain awareness into expanding your organization's scope of influence and relevancy, or otherwise learn something you didn't expect that can be beneficial.
Rather than an environment of learning and development, social media networking tends to foster an atmosphere of hostility or sycophantic echo chambers. Rarely does social networking afford you any valuable time with relevant subject matter experts, let alone the time or opportunity to appropriately approach experts to learn from them.
Benefit 3: Learning from Others’ Association Conference Events Success (and Mistakes)
Our own Gail McHardy, Director of Conference & Events at CSAE, knows the value of learning what others are doing correctly and what missed the mark. If you are planning your future conference events, mine someone else’s conference for ideas. Conferences are expensive, so don't be afraid to ask organizers and attendees how this or that component is working out if you plan on something similar for your events. Let them test it out at their event, and then you are better positioned to try a different spin on it or dump it altogether if it proves to be a disaster.
When you hear on social networking about what went right or wrong about a given event, the word is usually biased, unforgiving, and picks up steam based on how others have commented on it rather than facts. And, of course, social networking means you are relying on the subjective opinion of others to understand how that event worked out. That simply can't replace what you could have learned about its operations by being there.
Speaking of the Benefits of Association Conference Events ...
Did you forget that the CSAE National Conference 2017 & Showcase is fast approaching? Have you registered and accommodations if you are not a local?
Register now to ensure you do not miss out. Enjoy all the association conference events that CSAE National Conference 2017 has to offer.