Joe noticed his hands were clammy. As he drove to his first chapter meeting, Joe thought about a couple other industry meetings he had attended. He remembered feeling quite awkward at those. He did not know anyone. The groups were professional but not all that welcoming. He stayed for the presentation and ducked out as soon as the networking started. In fact, Joe normally would not bother attending a meeting like this one, but his best vendor insisted.
The moment Joe walked into the hotel he noticed a sign pointing the way to the event. At the reception desk, he was warmly welcomed and given his badge. Turning away from the registration desk, a friendly man walked him to the room chit chatting all the way. Inside the room was a group of folks clustered around the door, the man introduced him to the group. One person stepped forward, welcomed him to the meeting, and helped him find a seat. Joe wound up talking with this person right up until the presenter started.
This presentation had a lot of interactive exercises, and Joe found himself participating more than he usually did in these situations. During the break, he made friends with the participants sitting to either side of him. Once the presentation wrapped up Joe did not immediately head for the door. Instead, he chatted with a few more attendees.
Driving back to the office, Joe was surprised how helpful the session had been and how pleasant and friendly all the other attendees were. He decided to find the meeting schedule and learn how to participate more.
Most of us have experienced awkward professional meetings. The speaker might be great, the venue might be great, the food might be great but, something is missing. What is missing is the connection. Registration is transactional. No one is assigned to welcome, or greet, or orient new attendees. Instead, long-timers huddle up together, and first-timers feel alone, awkward, and they start to wonder when they will be back in the safety of their car.
The connectionless business meeting is quite common. So common in fact, that when we are new, we expect to feel a little, or a lot, awkward.
What if the member experience at your association was just the opposite? What if the experience was more like Joe’s? Your association could exceed expectations for no extra money at all.