Engagement + Marketing

Association Conference Explores New Metrics for Success

How can networks help associations grow?


Yesterday I attended Kellen Conferences’ “Associations: 2020 and Beyond” event at Apella, a high-tech meeting space that looks out on New York City’s East River. The daylong conference revolved around the theme of networks, with sessions dedicated to exploring ways for associations to grow membership and engagement by enriching both internal and external networks.

Michael Williams, chief marketing officer for Grand Prix of America, Formula 1 spoke about how both brands and marketing strategies are changing with the times. “Attention is the new currency,” he said, encouraging association leaders to cultivate social media ambassadors and build out their mobile presence on the web. “That’s where everything happens.”

The C-level panel discussion that followed addressed new revenue models and how organizations are keeping up with technological innovations. Other hot topics included doing business in China and recruiting younger members to volunteer for boards and committees.

Two breakout panel sessions followed, “Advocating for Your Industry’s Cause,” and “Understanding and Communicating with Your Membership Segments.” At the membership discussion, panelists shared their strategies for crunching data and targeting communications both to improve response rates and avoid email fatigue. All three agreed that social media is useful for raising their awareness among potential members, even though the “next generation member” demographics varied widely between their organizations.

arianna_huffingtonThe final speaker of the day was media mogul Arianna Huffington, who gave a talk titled “From Politics to the Board Room: Fearless Leadership.” She related how she, as a leader, has put more emphasis on wellness and redefining her idea of success. At the most basic neurological level, leaders need to be well-rested and energized in order to be effective decision-makers. (Sleep hygiene is a topic near to our hearts at Convene.) Huffington also advocated moving from a money- and power-based definition of success to one based on four pillars: wellbeing, wisdom, wonder, and giving. The lively Q&A session that followed demonstrated how moving the goal posts for leadership has already become a pressing issue within associations.

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.