My 5th Annual Meeting as a member of ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) was as memorable for many reasons however it is in keeping with many others that my wrap is kept to just five key takeaways. Arriving in Dallas TX for the first time and approaching the Omni Hotel Downtown Dallas gave me a sense of what we were about to experience. The Dallas CVB was really owning the convention and at every vantage point, like the lights on my hotel, making us feel welcome.
My five takeaways from #ASAE12 include:
- Form Follows Function: Pre-determining your purpose for attending a major convention & learning experience such as this helps you decide which sessions to attend based on their format, learning style and the best presenters. More than that, a form follows function approach helps you understand that some of the best learning takes a form that you won’t read about in the conference planner.
- #PoolCon is not just a fancy name for fun: PoolCon is a tradition at ASAE that when there are no sessions on and the August weather is playing its part people convene at one hotel pool to continue the conversation. Yes, we partake of a beverage or two at the same time however PoolCon has become one of the most engaging places to learn. I am always amazed at who arrives to the designated pool and starts a crackin’ conversation. Some of the best ideas I had this year came while being waist deep in a conversation with some of the smartest people in the US Association sector. Meeting planners should take something away from this.
- There should be an App for that: The best conferences have great mobile Apps. The ASAE12 iPad App was great (I wish it was the same on my iPhone) and it made the task of choosing my sessions and finding my rooms very easy. With improving Twitter integration this year the ASAE app was central to taking notes, sharing ideas and keeping track of my schedule which meant I did not really need to carry a bag throughout the day. Beats the conference book hands down.
- My Captain, My Database: My focus was on learning more about commercial development, creating new business models and generating revenue from partnerships. Central to every discussion and learning session was the need to have a database full of information that people are willing to pay money to have access to. Critical in effectively managing your stakeholder relationships is being transparent about what information of theirs you will be using to generate commercial partnerships. However, with a meaningful discourse about why you seek corporate partnerships (not just to make more money) their support will enhance the value of a robust database making your organisation very attractive to external partners.
- Learning has to be more Human: I am not sure if it is just because my US colleagues get to do it more often but I find them to be far more social than my Australian colleagues when it comes to conference learning. The size and scope of US conferences requires them to be more dynamic in their learning formats which includes incredible social experiences. In AUS we seem to still feel guilty about building actual fun and socialising into conference programming. Our organisations need to take on a far more human approach to engaging with our own staff & volunteers; our clients & stakeholders; and, our association management colleagues. Humanising our organisations and the learning experiences we create will deliver far more value & return on investment.
I wish I could list all the cool people I know, I met and I look forward to working with in the future as a result of my experience at ASAE12. In an update I may well try as I would love my followers to start benefiting from the people I benefit from each time I am afforded the opportunity to attend this annual meeting.