Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Career Development – What Mentoring Can Do For You

Mentoring is often defined as a professional relationship where one person (i.e. – the mentor) helps another person (i.e. the mentee) with professional and personal growth.  They work together to develop specific skills and knowledge that will help enhance the mentees career (within their current role, or preparing for future career paths).

What we have found to-date with the Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of CSAE’s mentor program is that mentors and mentees are learning from each other – while the mentee benefits from the experience and knowledge of their mentor; the mentor in turn is learning from the mentee just as much – in many cases about technology, new, “fresh” ideas for marketing and communications, and how an employee in a junior position at an association perceives an operational structure.

For the purposes of this article, we have interviewed a series of association executives; all who have participated in the local program in years past.  Some have agreed to speak publically about their experience, others preferred to remain anonymous, but all provided feedback that could and should be shared with the chapter.

The interviews were conducted without specific questions in mind; it was a conversation with each individual to hear from them specifically what they felt was beneficial from participating in the program.

“Working in an association with a very small staff set, it was important to me that I found someone who was in a similar situation as I was, who either currently is, or has, ‘lived what I was living’.  We could exchange ideas, operational experiences, and listen to each other’s ideas”, says Robin Jackson, Executive Director of the Canadian Federation of University Women.

“I must admit, I wasn’t sure it was going to work out with my match, and frankly, neither did she”, says Sangita Kamblé, Executive Director of the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation.  “We were too much alike, and frankly, we were not sure how we could benefit from this.  But after meeting with my mentoring partner, we clicked.  It is very much an equal exchange; we share concerns, ideas, etc.”

What are the benefits of mentoring?

There are many…too many to highlight in one article.  But; some benefits include encouraging/enhancing business initiatives; professional development; breaks down the “silo” mentality between generations, industries, and job functions.

One anonymous supported said that “It moves you beyond your typical circle of professional relationships.  With the chapter’s program, the ‘match-making’ is someone else’s responsibility; by using some questions to help determine the pairings (i.e. what you want out of this).  Then they match you up with others who are looking to help with those areas.  I cannot speak to everyone else’s experience, but I was paired with someone outside of my industry.  I was new to my role, and with this program, I got to look at new approaches, which helped me grow in my position, and my organization.”

Mentors benefit by learning other areas of an organization; or an industry, gaining satisfaction in sharing expertise and experience with others, and in turn, having a new perspective that helps with their own professional and personal development.

“Looking back to when I was very new to associations (and to being an Executive Director); I really could have benefitted from a program like this.  I certainly feel that I reasonably invested my time as a mentor”, says Duncan Grant, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Archivists.

Mentees benefit by learning specific skills and knowledge to help them advance their careers; gaining from the mentor’s expertise, and they have someone who will listen when they are frustrated; or wanting to share successes.

“I spent a lot of my time with my mentor focusing on articulating my core competencies and highlighting my unique skills.  It’s not always easy to do this on your own, and the help my mentor provided was fantastic.  I know that I can fall back on her for advice if needed.”, says Geraldine Hyland, Manager, Member Services at the Canadian Library Association.

About the Mentorship Program

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of CSAE conducts assessments during the summer months, and then matches the pairings in September.  From September-May; it is up to the mentor/mentee pairings to set up a schedule to meet, chat, etc.  The Chapter volunteers circle back in January to check in and ensure that everyone is going OK.  Our “official” involvement ends in May; and it is up to the pairings if they want to continue or not.

“My match and I have been at this for over 1.5 years; and it doesn’t show signs of stopping yet”; said Sangita Kamblé.

“I do not run in the same circles as my match.” said Geraldine Hyland. “I doubt we would have come across each other in an in-depth way as we have through this program.”

Another anonymous participant said, “We are still in touch monthly.  It is largely in part of both of us recognizing that you have to put an effort into it to get anything out of it.  We are both interested in keeping it going.”

“Members should really be taking full-advantage of this program – there is a wealth of knowledge available to you as a result – on both sides.”, says Duncan Grant.

Interested in participating in the program?  Contact the Chapter Executive for further details.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Trade Show Management – Concept to Completion

Trade Show Management is an art. To produce a successful show takes strong vision, calculated
planning, organized execution, and countless hours. A Show Manager requires an extremely diverse skill set or a competent and skilled team, as they are working with various stakeholders, components
and a myriad of details.

There are four stages to the process: Planning, Coordinating, Execution and Evaluation.

The Planning phase consists of reviewing the current operations, setting goals and objectives, identifying stakeholders, choosing your team and creating a budget. Understanding who the stakeholders are, how important each group is and how valuable good relationships with all of them are is the key to a smooth running show. Whether it be your exhibitors, attendees, sponsors, suppliers, venue contacts, media, staff and volunteers, each group brings a unique perspective with different needs; many with expertise in their area you can draw from. Utilize their knowledge.

Planning your team is equally important – given the variety of areas implicated in a trade show including administration and finance, sales, communications and marketing, registration and event management you will undoubtedly encounter a wide range of skills and personalities and it is important to utilize their strengths and involve them in all the planning in order for them to buy in to your ideas.

Other components of the planning stage consist of:

  • Budget - including venue, all site expenses, speakers, marketing etc.
  • Regulations – labour, safety, disability, fire code, licensing, insurance, green practices, etc.
  • Logistics – this is one of the largest areas in the planning phase. It encompasses requests for proposals, site selections and floor plans, contracts, venue and service providers, scheduling, features and entertainment, AV, catering and more.

It is important to note that having a well designed, logical floor plan can make or break your show. If it is not well thought out, if exhibitors are not happy with their space/locations, if attendees can’t find features, if there are dead aisles, or if you haven’t followed safety, fire, or electrical regulations, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. I reiterate the value of all stakeholders – it’s important to keep them happy and coming back. A word of advice – keep the inspectors happy – it makes your life a lot easier.

Sales and marketing are another big part of the planning process. The first step should be to complete a Situation Analysis or a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and from those responses look at market segmentation, ways to prospect and lead generation. Your marketing plan needs to be integrated, utilizing advertising, public relations, website, social and digital media. A marketing timeline should be created a year in advance and the different medians used depending on what stage of the plan you are in.

Creating a complete exhibitor prospectus which has all the pertinent information regarding the details of your show and the value of exhibiting is a must. Ensure everything the exhibitor needs to know is included: attendee demographics, logistics, floor plans and costs, conditions of contract, accommodations and travel tips, sponsorship opportunities and tips for exhibiting. The exhibitor guide should be equally as detailed with relevant information on setup, tear down, contractors, shipping, electrical, AV, security, material handling, storage, etc. The easier you make things for the exhibitors, the happier they are and more likely to return the next year.

The world of sponsorship has changed immensely. It is growing hugely and allows for much creativity. It is no longer signage and exposure; sponsors desire to be interactive and engaging. Constantly look for new opportunities to enhance your revenue. Research other shows and borrow their ideas.

The Planning, Coordination and Execution stages go hand in hand. As you are planning some stages you are also coordinating and executing others. The coordination phase consists of assigning tasks, timelines and personnel. How are things going to come together? It requires arranging tasks with all stakeholders, and takes the plan and prepares it for execution.

Executing is the coordination and managing of all logistics and the show as a whole. It is monitoring and controlling the sales process, ongoing tasks and the team while also identifying constraints and issues. The use of a project management plan and timelines is imperative to keep tasks on track and ensure completion of them.

The final stage which takes the least amount of time but is one of the most important is the

Once you have completed the tasks, settled all contracts, completed all reports, collected exhibitor and attendee surveys, it is necessary to evaluate with all stakeholders, to get their feedback and recommendations and analyze all the information. This will assist you in making improvements for future success. It is important to note, one successful event does not make you an expert. Many different situations and new challenges can impact your event, often unpredicted, so being prepared and proactive, as well as understanding your market and its conditions, is extremely important.

The trade show business is a lot of hard work, but exciting and rewarding and most importantly unique - as nothing is as powerful as face-to-face marketing!

Nancy Milani, CEM, CMP, has produced and coordinated over 200 events in the past 20 years from a variety of charity fundraisers, to professional sporting events, corporate events, conferences, trade and consumer shows. Nancy facilitates Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) courses throughout Canada, US and Asia for the Canadian Association of Exhibition Management (CAEM) and International Association Events & Exhibitions (IAEE) and presents workshops and sessions in event management, sales and marketing for corporations and at conferences. 

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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

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OG CSAE Spring-printempsr2015ExecutiveVol2

Succession Planning – an Important Part of Association Leadership

CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau’s February luncheon and presentation “Succession Planning – an Important
Part of Association Leadership” was generously hosted by the Hilton Lac-Leamy and sponsored by
the Chapter’s professional development partners, Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre.

Succession planning is not an issue that many organizations address in any systematic way. Because most not-for-profit organizations have limited resources and deal with a variety of organizational challenges, thinking about who the next CEO might be or what would happen if the Director of Finance suddenly left is often not high on the priority list. However, not only do association leaders need to think about how they will continue to fulfill their mission if a key staff member left, they also need to address changing demographics and the realities of today’s workforce capacity.

Although the type and extent of planning will be different, organizations of all sizes need to have some sort of succession plan. With careful planning and preparation, organizations can prepare for a generational transfer of leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly when key employees leave an organization.

Three association leaders, Jody Ciufo, Executive Director, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, the national voice for the full spectrum of affordable housing issues, Ondina Love, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) and Paul Melia, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), led by moderator Nancy Barrett, CAE, Association Management, Consulting & Evaluation Services (AMCES), shared how their organizations are dealing with the issue of succession planning.

The takeaways from this session are:
  • Small associations typically have to look externally for replacements should a key staff resource leave. It was also emphasized that providing existing staff with opportunities for development will help retain stars within the organization.
  • A succession plan policy is important and should be reviewed annually.
  • Boards may consider having an insurance policy for the CEO to fund the transition and executive search costs that would be incurred if she/he had to be replaced due to death.

Medium and large associations could deal with a sudden departure as follows:

  • Senior staff should be trained and prepared so that the CEO’s duties can be shared among them while a replacement is found.
  • If feasible, a Chief Operating Officer position could be established. The COO would understand all aspects of the organization’s operations and could step in in an interim capacity should the CEO leave. 
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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Are Your Communications Clear Enough?

Does your association clearly communicate your value proposition to your members?  Does it instill FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)?  Does it truly provide a reason for your members to engage?  Is it all about YOU, or do you write it so that it is all about THEM?

If your answers to the above are "No", or "I'm not sure", then you may be sabotaging your efforts.

Everyone is working on budgets these days; people are watching their spending, and as a result, you need t put your best foot forward - and ensure that your communication shows that you really are the ONE place that they will receive the best information, education, and resources -- or they may go elsewhere.

You can start by ensuring that your communications engage members and stakeholders, and reflect that their story is important to the story of your association.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

What Is Your Purpose?  Have your clearly outlined your purpose, or are you banking on a mission/vision statement that was drafted many years ago?  Educate your members, in every way (email, social media, your website) on what your association does to impact/improve your community.  Simply outlining benefits is not enough - associations need to work hard to name a benefit and provide concrete examples on how that benefit creates change.

Offer Something NEW:  Just because you have a program or service that you have been offering members for years doesn't mean it is still relevant.  Take stock of what you are doing, what people are buying, reading, or working on and see what you can eliminate and ADD to better enhance your value.

Be Where They Are:  Do you offer the same methods of communication as you have for the last several years?  Where are your members now?  Do you have an active LinkedIn group and Twitter handle?  Are you offering podcasts, webinars, or hybrid events?  Where do your members see you and where should they see you?  All questions that should be asked when developing communication plans.

Be Responsive:  There are literally thousands of tools available to help you track activity; who has opened emails, who has clicked on links, who is downloading resources.  Don't let these fall through the cracks!  Part of an effective communication strategy includes actual conversations.  Follow Up!  Ask for feedback.  Offer them other resources.  Have a conversation.

What else could you be doing to enhance your communication?  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Motivating Your "Difficult" Team Member

In a leadership role within your association?  Then your job (whether it is written in the job description or not) includes motivating your team.  And not just from time to time, successful organizations motivate daily.

Here are a few things you can do to motivate your "difficult" team member:

Got Problems Internally?  Don't Shy Away - Deal With Them!

Whether they are constantly calling in sick, on their phones texting, or simply not engaging in team meetings, don't wait t address the situation until there is a significant pattern; or perhaps waiting for someone else to notice, deal with them.  If you let it go with that ONE individual, others will notice, and possibly follow suit.

Be Objective (Even When It Hurts)

If you are frustrated, you can make rash decisions, that may affect everyone else's day, and roles.  If you think that your personal opinions may get in the way, then instead of worrying about whether or not any sort of bias will show, gather a team of managers - those who work directly or indirectly with the individual to conduct a review.  Base any conversation on facts, and see if there is a need for any additional training.  The individual may not have learned a particular skill in the way they needed to in order to be effective, so allow them the time to respond to any issues.

Have the Conversation

Tell them how you (or your management team) feels.  But allow them the time to express their position too.  The conversation should include both sides exploring ways to solve the issue.  But don't expect a resolution right away.  In many cases, you will have to allow some time to think about possible avenues, to formulate the best decision and critical path.


Now that you have had your conversation, and have both agreed to the right plan for the situation, don't just move on -- your employee may not know where to start in order to fix the issue.  Help them explore job-shadowing, professional development, or set aside time weekly to go through the parts of the job that they are simply not "getting".  Following up is more than just an ongoing, conversation, is action.

Recognize the Change

After the time invested on both sides, hopefully you will see positive change.  At this point, some leaders just "move on" to the next issue, but don't allow yourself to re-focus on something else without recognizing your team member's efforts.  It can be a simple chat, or some other reward that you deem appropriate.

What else could you be doing to motivate and change a difficult team member?

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Want to Create a Better #Association Conference? Some helpful tips...

  1. What are your goals?  What are THEIRS?  Do you know why someone is attending your conference?  Is it the program, the networking, both?  It is it earn PD credits?  Do you really know?  The first thing you should consider when creating your next conference is to determine the "why" - why your stakeholders sponsor and exhibit, why your attendees show up, etc.  This could be done during post-event evaluations, both to determine if the most recent event met their expectations, and what would meet their expectations.
  2. DON'T Pack the Program.  Yes, they are there to learn.  But are they really taking away all they can with a packed program?  Down-time for the attendee to absorb the information they learned, or perhaps chat with another participant to discuss what was covered will increase event ROI.
  3. Does every session look the same on paper?  If it does, change it.  Surprise attendees with some longer, some shorter sessions.  Sessions that get them involved, sessions that increase participation.  The element of surprise will keep their attention throughout the day.
  4. Don't make it boring - have fun!  Yes, they are there to learn, and conduct business.  But, at the same time, it is a moment for them where they are not in their offices/workspaces, so don't forget to implement some downtime for family programs, or perhaps use gamification to create fun and unique ways for attendee/sponsor/exhibitor interaction.  Keep them smiling, not exhausted!

What else have you done to create a better conference?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Challenges of Being an Executive Director

In case you didn't see it, in December 2014 Huffington Post published a fantastic article called "No One Told Us! The Unspoken Challenges of Being an Executive Director".

The following are a few paragraphs from that article that hit home:

Your salary per hour is actually not very good. The job never ends, and every part of the role is legitimately important. Recruiting, developing and retaining talent? It's the most critical part of your job. High-level fundraising and management of key external relationships? Only you can do it. Ensuring the quality of your program? It's the bottom line. Being visible at community events? You have to show up. Responding to emails and requests in a timely fashion? Non-negotiable. But when do you sleep? Eat dinner with your kids? Focus on passions and interests other than your job? If you're always working, you lose a piece of yourself...and even if you are paid well in theory, it can be hard to put a price tag on sacrificing so many other parts of your life. As an ED, you need to understand your full job description so that you can knowledgably negotiate your salary and enter your role with eyes wide open. Advocate for yourself as strongly as you will surely advocate for your cause.

It's exhausting to constantly have to inspire people. My EDs often lament about the energy they need to exert in order to recruit board members, motivate staff members, and woo donors to invest in their vision. When you breathe something to life and believe in it with all of your being, it can be downright offensive when people seem uninterested. Having to relay the same story over and over again about your vision, what problem you're solving, and why your organization's impact is worthy of note can be tiring. Conversations will bleed into one another, and it can be hard to remember who has heard a specific story or anecdote. You never want your pitch to get rote, and keeping that spark alive for the 400th time can be an exercise in personal motivation. Some EDs revise their pitch regularly to keep it fresh, and others give themselves a week off here and there where they are largely internal so that they can re-energize.

Even when it's time to go, it's impossible to leave. Because you are so committed to your organization's mission, (this is especially true for founders), and because your identity is so intertwined with your role, it can be extremely difficult to separate from your job. Many EDs worry that they haven't built a strong enough bench to leave the organization in a stable place, and they don't feel comfortable leaving because they are worried things will deteriorate. (Make a note - building a bench is something you should think about long before you ever want to leave your job.) You may feel pressured by outsiders who believe that if you don't stay in your role forever your contributions weren't authentic. This is don't owe your entire life to anyone. It is wrong to negate someone's genuine contributions as they walk out the door in an attempt to dissuade them or others from leaving. EDs can set the tone for this by being genuinely appreciative for the contributions of their staff and board, and by treating any departures with graciousness.

Want to read more?  Click here for the original article.

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

@WildApricot - Highlighting their Volunteer Appreciation Guide

Wild Apricot, a web-based software for small associations and non-profits to help manage membership, website, events and other activities, spend a lot of time on their blog talking about volunteering.  As we all know, most associations rely heavily on their volunteers to ensure that special programs, events, and other initiatives go off "without a hitch".

When searching for articles to reference for a blog on showing appreciation to your volunteers, I came across their Volunteer Appreciation Guide, and frankly, it hit the mark by talking about everything I was going to.  So instead of re-inventing the wheel, I thought I would showcase some highlights:

Why Do People Volunteer:

  • to make a contribution to the community - 93%
  • to use their skills and experiences - 78%
  • personally affected by the organization’s cause - 59%
  • to explore one’s own strengths - 48%
  • to network with or meet people - 46%
  • because their friends volunteer - 48%
  • to improve job opportunities - 22%
  • to fulfill religious obligations or beliefs - 21%

Volunteer recognition best practices

Make it a priority. Recognizing the work of volunteers is crucial for any organization that wants to retain its volunteers and attract new ones. Designate someone in your organization to be responsible for ensuring that ongoing recognition of volunteers takes place.

Do it often. Recognition of volunteers should happen on a year-round, frequent and informal basis. Begin by saying “thank you” often!

Do it in different ways. Vary your recognition efforts, from the informal thank you and spontaneous treats to more formal events. Here are some examples:

Be sincere. Make each occasion to recognize volunteers meaningful and an opportunity to reflect on the value volunteers bring to your organization.

Recognize the person, not the work. It’s best to phrase recognition to emphasize the contribution of the individual and not the end result. “You did a great job!” as opposed to “This is a great job!”

Want to read more?  Click here for the full article!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

3 Communications Best Practices from 3 Online Resources

Sometimes, the best way to communicate is to keep it simple.  Here are three tips/best practices from three online resources:

From Association Advisor: Recommendation #1: Don’t Fall Victim to Shiny Object Syndrome
A new approach may be just what your association needs to help reach your communications goals, but don’t fall victim to “shiny object syndrome.” Before you make a decision to invest in new communications tools, ask your members, vendors and advertisers which of your association content channels they find most valuable and which communications platforms they are most receptive to. Your research may also help you uncover new communication platforms that members are gravitating towards or reveal to you that you already have access to tools that can amplify your communications when integrated into an ongoing plan. Marcus Underwood, Chief Innovation Officer for Naylor, says that the ROI of any new technology is important to consider prior to making a purchase but to keep in mind that the value of the investment may not always be quantifiable in financial terms. Underwood explains that certain technology investments and upgrades are just standard operating expenses for running a business and warns that there are also risks associated with not keeping up with technology.

From the Canadian Association of Labour Media: Don’t make it all about you. The best way to get someone’s attention quickly is to talk about them.

If you want your message to cut through, you need to talk about your issues in a way that will make people listen – make them feel something – make them see that what we are talking about relates to them and their families.

You are stronger when you talk about ordinary people and the values we care about like security, family, fairness and respect. Use too many technical, legal terms, and acronyms, and your audience will get lost or bored. Grab your audience’s attention by speaking directly to them about the things they care about – and make sure they know you care, too.

Connect with your members and the public on shared values, beliefs and experiences. Talk family, dignity, respect, opportunity and fairness. People will be more inclined to listen to your message if it’s about the broader public interest and not just your self-interest.

From Silverbear (and, yes it was around the holiday season!)  Explain why you’ve been good

This is a key part of a letter to Santa. As we’re all aware, Santa already knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, but it can’t hurt to mention again the good deeds you’ve done this year.

In the same way, it’s important to reinforce the value your members have received over the course of their membership. It’s easy for them to forget events they’ve attended, training they’ve undergone, CPD points they’ve logged and other areas of value they have had over the year. So make sure you emphasise these to help jog their memory.

You should be able to quickly pull together a member value statement from your membership software solution to help you with this.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Some of the Marketing Tips that Caught Our Eye

There are a ton of resources out there to help you enhance your marketing efforts.  Here is a few samples of the tips and best practices we have seen that you should be aware of:

Via MemberClicks Inc.: Take a Risk  You hear it all the time in human relationships, people lamenting how the object of their eye only likes people who are bad for them. Most people are drawn to risk takers. They like rebels. They want to follow someone who’s speeding down the road. They want excitement. Boring rarely receives a cult following.

If you want more loyal followers, if you want people to join, you must do something different than what you’ve been doing. Let more of your personality show. Let your members’ personalities shine through. Host a membership drive that expresses your members’ stories, not just a spotlight that gives their name and employer. Remember the tattooed librarian calendar from the Rhode Island Library Association?

Via Association TRENDS: Subject line length  Subject lines with fewer characters continue to outperform longer subject lines. With more and more subscribers checking email on mobile devices, a short, engaging subject line is more important now than ever. Be direct and let recipients know exactly what they’re about to see once they open. Keep in mind, while subject lines with less than 10 characters averaged 49.73 percent open rates, that doesn’t mean that a longer subject line won’t do the trick. We’ve found that above all, relevance and clarity trumps persuasion and creativity. The best way to know what your audience responds best to? Test it!

Via Digitec Interactive: Not ROI, ROE  No matter what social media platform you choose, the important thing to remember is that social media is about engagement. You don’t need to advertise on these platforms to reap the rewards of going social, you just need a page or profile. The ability to have conversations with your friends and followers, as well as to curate content that lets prospective members get a glimpse of the association’s mission, goals, and character is what social media is really all about. Social media is an engagement tool, and success is measured not by Return on Investment (ROI), but by Return on Engagement (ROE). What’s not to “like” about that?

Via Association Marketer: Embrace “membership season.” By focusing your membership drives on a particular time period, you can offer time-limited discounts and offers to encourage your prospects to join now instead of waiting till later.

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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

What Else Can You Be Doing To Retain Your Members?

Defining your value with your members is a high priority on every association’s list. Here are a few ways that you can increase your value:

Start by Truly Engaging Your Members

Cited as a common problem in most associations, we struggle to get our share of our member’s time, and the time we do get we are torn with promoting products and services, and truly finding ways to have meaningful conversations.  What are you doing to ensure that they feel significant?  One way is to seek their help to solve a problem they have raised.  Did they not like the last conference?  Ask them to volunteer their time.  Disagreeing with a certain association policy?  Ask them to nominate themselves (or, be nominated) to sit on the Board of Directors.  Asking for their help with show that you have heard their issue, and are seeking their assistance to solve the problem.

Don’t forget Lapsed Members

Sometimes, members just won’t renew.  Possibly because they were not satisfied, but other reasons could include retirement, maternity/paternity leave, or they simply just forgot.
It is crucial that you find out why.  If they have no intention of returning, organizations should have a set series of questions and conduct an exit interview, so that as a whole, you can learn from these experiences, and create change.  Asking them if there was anything you could do to have changed their mind, etc.  At times, you may be able to bring some back – other times, you won’t.  But don’t just let them walk off into the sunset without finding out WHY.

Don’t Be Slow to Make Changes

We often find that while the world is changing rapidly, associations are slow to adopt.  There are certain theories about this – fear, board involvement, and lack of expertise come to mind.  But there are ways to overcome those.  Moving towards making faster decisions should be part of your strategy.  Whether this means finding the right team to help you along the way, or moving from a working Board of Directors to a Strategic one, put policies in place to ensure that your association keeps up with the times.

What else could you be doing to create, maintain, and show value?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A Few Thoughts on Maximizing ROI For Your Sponsors...

If you have an event coming up and are looking for some ways to help maximize the investment your sponsors have made with you, here are a few tips that you may be interested in:

  1. Give your delegates something to talk about.  Sponsors have selected your conference/event to sponsor, because your members and other meeting participants are targets that they believe will help drive sales.  Help your sponsors out – give your delegates some information in forms of social media, blogs and other content that will keep your sponsors top of mind.  Remember to include the fact that they are sponsoring your event, and will be there if they have questions, etc.
  2. When onsite, make sure you are introducing your sponsors to as many people as you can.  When chatting with your delegates, many times you will come across problems, challenges, and areas that your sponsors can help solve.  Instead of just suggesting that they find the sponsor and have the conversation on their own – facilitate the introduction.  It will not only lessen the time it takes for a delegate to actively seek  out the contact, but will give your sponsor additional ROI.  
  3. If part of your sponsorship includes a booth or table top, encourage sponsors to avoid being “just another exhibitor” that delegates will want to avoid.  Time is money, and you want to ensure that you have done everything you can to maximize their investment with you.  Perhaps come up with tips and best practices for your own event, focusing in what your unique delegates want to see/hear and how they want to be approached. 
  4. If you can, have a meeting with your sponsors and exhibitors either the night before or first thing in the morning before your event.  Give them an opportunity to see that you appreciate them, and that their involvement is recognized.  Giving them time to ask questions, or perhaps learn about how and when they can do more to maximize their investment will show your sponsors that you have thought it through, and just haven’t taken their money without providing them with some sort of return. 
What things have you incorporated lately that has raised the ROI for your sponsors?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Thinking of getting your CAE?

Making the decision to go for my CAE was the end of a process of consideration for a number of years.  Timing and really arriving at the right moment in my career made the difference.

Ultimately, it was landing my first job as an Executive Director that got me to take the plunge. Obviously knowing enough to get the job, I still felt that there was wisdom to be gained from those who had proceeded me, my colleagues, and through the resources I would read.  Inevitably, with the eyes of members on me waiting to see what I could do for the association as a “rookie”, there was comfort and assurance to be able to draw from the CAE experience, my colleagues, and dare I say, the ability to state that I was studying for my CAE!

Throughout my studies, I found that the CAE program was a great forum to make contacts and bounce ideas off of colleagues.  I learned a great deal with the innumerable amount of articles and resources available, not to mention the experiences from others through the forum discussions.  Later as I came to the point of looking to advance onto another role, I very much found that the CAE designation has been a definite career advancer.  While not always asked for in job placement ads, I did note that during the interview for my current role, having a designation made a difference.  In fact, after mentioning my designation, a number of follow up questions and interest was generated by this fact. When I was offered the post, I was told that while there were a number of eligible candidates in the vying, my association-specific management knowledge is what made the difference.

Thinking of getting your CAE?  In my humble opinion, it is completely worth it.  A fair warning: it can be time consuming.  Prepare yourself for at least 5 hours per week for regular study time and as much as 15 hours in the final lead up to assignments.  As you get towards the final assignment (CAE 500), make sure to put a few solid days aside. They’re big projects and you’re given only a weekend to complete them all.  I also found that when you have assignments, try to get started as soon as possible.  When you’re already holding down a career, you’ll be amazed at how quickly time goes by.  I also found setting blocks of time aside to do the reading and posting to be the most effective.

This post was submitted by Mark Buzan, CAE, President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries.  Mark is an association management executive with nearly 17 years experience effectively working with a variety of national nonprofit boards.

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Monday, 23 March 2015

The Executive is now available...

Here is the January/February 2015 Executive.

In this issue...

  • The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter President's Message (Page 3)
  • CSAE Tête-à-Tête 25th Anniversary Review (Page 6)
  • Succession Planning - an Important Part of Association Leadership (Page 10)
  • PACE Committee Update (Page 14)
  • MPI Charity Auction (Page 16)
  • Trade Show Management - Concept to Completion (Page 18)
  • CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Young Professionals Get to Know the World of Associations (Page 24)
Happy reading!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tips for Association Networking Sessions

This is final instalment in the series on Networking, as written by Dana Cooper, MBA, CAE (Executive Director, Orthotics Prosthetics Canada)

Too often I see events that are intended to be networking events, but establish barriers for effective networking.  There are many things associations can do to facilitate networking.  A few are shared here:

  • Ditch the chairs!  Networking is about circulating and meeting as many people as possible to find those nuggets of value.  It is increasingly difficult to do this in a group of four to six others seated at the same table.  If chairs are necessary, put them around the side of the rooms for people to have more in-depth discussions and pay homage to the smartphone gods.
  • Environment is critical.  Choose a location that contributes to low volume conversations and the circulation of people.  Participants will need to manage the food and beverage that will be part of the evening, so include high table and tools to help them stand and circulate.
  • Names are important.  Help people remember or get to know names, positions and organizations.  Much of what will be discussed will relate to professions.  Provide context to those conversations by providing name badges with names, positions and organization name.
  • Facilitate personal connections.  You can facilitate incorporating personal connections into the events in a number of ways.  You can include a networking activity to find out information on others, or at the beginning of the event, ask questions of the crowd so that people can see others that may have similar interests.  Who likes to ski?  Who play an instrument?  Who has children under 10?  These are door openers to communication and immediately break down barriers and create connections.
Networking is one of the most valuable activities for your members and for your organization in terms of the member value proposition.  That value comes from making the connections that your association was created to facilitate.

With peer networking, there is very little risk and potential significant reward.  It should be enjoyable!  By being there, the only commitment participants should have is to enjoy themselves and come with the intent of helping others and being helped.  

Your association needs to be strategic about how it structures its networking events to facilitate the creation and realization of value for your members.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

10 Tips for Networking Success

This is part 3 in the series on Networking, as written by Dana Cooper, MBA, CAE (Executive Director, Orthotics Prosthetics Canada)

Prepare in advance.

Take some time before the event to understand what information would be valuable to you.  Objectives can include:

  • Finding others who have addressed issues you are currently facing;
  • Event experiences: conference locations, speakers, etc.;
  • Bring a question or two that you want to ask others;
  • Identify a position or an organization type you want to meet.
Have realistic objectives.

Ultimately, what you want to leave with are connections that can be valuable to you at some point in the future.  You should try to connect with several people during the course of the event.  You don't need the answers to your challenges during the networking...what you want is someone to connect with later to discuss their experiences.

Your challenges are likely not unique!

At your association events, attendees are in a room full of peers with a great deal in common.  While everyone thinks their organizations, members, issues and challenges are unique, it is very likely not the case.  There will be someone out there that can help.  They may not be at the event at that time, but there are people in attendance that can help make those connections.

Your challenges may not be unique...but you are!  Make it personal!

Don't just talk shop, talk about yourself.  There are many things that connect people to each other.  Ask questions of the other that are not work related.  Personal connections are the most powerful connections to make and will be much for memorable.  Encourage people to discuss something personal about themselves.  This is an area in which your association can facilitate networking.

Follow up after the event.

Contrary to days gone by where you had to organize business cards or record your connections to remember, today with have social media that helps us remember our connections and facilitate future communication.  Connect with your acquaintances on a social media platform.  Then when you are looking for resources, your social media connections should be the first source and a great memory cue for remembering the people we have connected with.

Have fun!

This is the fun part of the business!  This should not be terrifying!  This is not an "I HAVE to go to this event" this should be an "I GET to go to this event".  Networking in a room of people with much in common is low risk.  There should be no pressure.  It should be a forum to connect with people that may potentially be of value.

Look for ways to help others.

There are few better feelings than being able to assist someone with an issue or challenge.  Not only does it provide them with value, but it also confirms that you have value to provide to others.

Be a communication facilitator.

Be that person that brings the introverts into the conversations.  You can see the anxiety release from them and they become participants rather than bystanders.  It just takes that one effort to make them feel involved.

You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression.

As many people are at the event, there are that many different personalities.  Match your personality to those you are speaking with.  You don't want to scare people by being overly aggressive, you want to make connections with people that will want to converse with you again.  If you are bold, it is much easier for you to adjust your personality down in terms of energy and volume than it is for the timid to raise theirs to your level.

Be in the moment.

The key to communicating, remembering, and positively connecting is to pay attention and listen to what people are saying.  There are few things worse than being engaged in a one-on-one and the other person is looking around the room or over your shoulder at others.  Be conscious of where your attention is...and it should be on the individual or individuals you are currently engaged with.  Today we have many potential distractions, including the smartphone you carry.  Let calls go to voicemail.  When there is a break in the conversation, sneak away to a corner and check.

Stay tuned for the final instalment of this series; "Tips for Association Networking Sessions".

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Networking - Value & Outcomes

This is part 2 in the series on Networking, as written by Dana Cooper, MBA, CAE (Executive Director, Orthotics Prosthetics Canada)

Why is networking so valued?

During peer networking, there is someone within that room that has something each participant wants or needs.  It is lie a mystery game...they just have to find who has that something.  Your role as an association is to facilitate those connections.

  • It is energizing and fun.  Enjoyment provides as much value to members as the information they obtain.  Don't forget that!
  • Fulfils our most basic social need.  We are human animals...we need our pack...our social connections are important and define our personal and professional self.
  • Face-to-face communications is the most personal and the most effective manner for engaging.
  • Networking gives you solutions to problems.  You get answers to questions...sometimes you get this before you even know you have a problem or question.
  • Networking gives you comparables.  It gives you context on where your organization is in terms of processes and functions in relation to other associations.
  • Networking gives you allies.  "Been there, done that" should be the motto for association networking events.  To paraphrase a famous and frequently misrepresented quote, "Everything you are or will be doing as an association has already been (or is being) done by another association."
  • Build your personal 'brand'; career development.  Networking is that first impression.  What can people expect from you?  Sources suggest that 70-80% of all jobs are found through networking.  Networking is also a valuable source to find viable candidates to hire.
  • Networking is (should be!) a low risk environment.  Your association's gatherings are attended by like-minded people with many things in common including being in the same industry and having similar needs and challenges.
What are the possible outcomes of networking?

The outcomes from networking are very much personal and dependent on the individual.  However, it is helpful to understand what the potential outcomes are from networking.  I have broken those down into three categories, each an evolution from the preceding.

Three Categories of Networking Outcomes:
  • Natural
  • Purposeful
  • Organic
The minimum result of networking is that you make acquaintances.  This is the natural outcome of networking.  The majority of those acquaintances will stay just that...acquaintances.  Interactions extend no further than future association events.  The benefit is that acquaintances can walk into the event and see familiar faces that can immediately and comfortably be engaged.

The purposeful outcome is an increase in value obtained from networking, and occurs when interaction takes place following the networking event to obtain more detail on a professional matter that was identified during networking.  One party has experience or resources to provide the other to assist in managing a challenge.

The organic outcome involves increased social risk, but results from making a strong personal and/or professional connection.  The organic outcomes are broken down further into three possibilities:  
  • Coffee mates:  these are people that you have made a professional connection with due to similarity in roles or organizations and with whom you want to maintain a connection.  You would have coffee with these connections several times a year for the purposes of discussing ongoing challenges and issues.
  • Lunch/Drink mates:  these are people you have made both a personal and professional connection with and are characterized by the increased social risk of lengthier get-togethers.
  • Friends:  this is when you have made a strong personal connection with the individual and where communication extends beyond the profession.  At this stage there is increased openness and relaxation and there is an expectation of enjoyment when together.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series; which offers 10 tips for networking success!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Networking = Critical Success Factor

Can I please have a show of hands of those not-for-profit associations that do not have networking as a key element of their member value propositions?  Truth is that associations were formed out of a critical mass of people with common needs and shared interests.  Does that not sound like a description for the perfect networking crowd?

Likely, members demand networking opportunities from their associations because they consistently place a great deal of value on connecting with their peers.  But have we stopped to consider why?  Is it the beverages and food...or is it something deeper that creates the value they seek?

Interestingly, many people believe networking is directly related to job hunting.  When I was in sales, networking was about filling the pipeline with prospects.  In the association world, networking is about connecting, gathering information, sharing resources and building relations.  Networking provides access to solutions, lays the groundwork for innovation and builds resources that may be a significant benefit both personally and professionally.

Networking is a critical success factor for high performing associations and a foundational element of the member value proposition.

The recent CSAE National Conference can be considered uber-networking central!  Of course, there are many educational opportunities, but I have always considered the networking as the greatest value.  Why?  Because while education provides a great foundation of general, theoretical information...networking provides knowledge in the lessons learned from the real life application of that educational information.  We get that knowledge from interacting with our peers through networking.

This article looks at why networking is so popular with the members.  It provides tips for networking success and provides suggestions as to how an organization can facilitate networking at its events.  What it doesn't discuss is the etiquette of networking.  While the etiquette is very important for making that all important first impression, the focus here is one the what, why and how of networking.

What is networking?

Networking is about connections that build your resource and support base that can be called upon when required.  Networking is like an online build up points to be able to buy stuff.  You get imaginary points by helping others through sharing resources, connecting people, pointing them in the right direction or some other value-added assistance.  Then when you are in need, the door is open to reap some returns.

It is very much relationship building.  Relationships are value exchanges where both parties obtain something of value.  As with any relationship, some effort is required to make and maintain the connections.  The beauty about networking is there is no pressure to take the relationship to the next level.

Networking is also an excuse to leave behind the day-to-day grind and refocus on the important issues, rather than the urgent.

Stay tuned for the second part of this - Why is it valued?

This article was written by Dana Cooper, MBA, CAE (Executive Director, Orthotics Prosthetics Canada)

Image courtesy of cuteimage at

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ron Tite (@rontite) to Keynote #CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau #TeteaTete

If over 160 exhibitors, free registration, and David Usher isn't enough for you - we bring you Ron Tite.

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter is thrilled to announce, in conjunction with Speakers Spotlight, that Ron Tite will be the Lunch Keynote Speaker for the upcoming tradeshow - in the tradition of providing quality presentations at the show, and in celebration of Tête-à-Tête's 25th anniversary.  The addition of a second keynote speaker is a special addition to the show this year.

Relevant, engaging, and interactive, Ron Tite exceeds expectations each and every time he takes the stage. Named one of the "Top 10 Creative Canadians" by Marketing magazine, the award-winning advertising writer and executive creative director addresses a variety of topics surrounding branding, corporate strategy, creativity and social media. Boasting training from Second City, Tite's presentations are not only information-packed, they're also infused with his unique humor--guaranteed to have you laughing while you learn.

Tite has created advertising campaigns for clients including Air France, Evian, Kraft, Intel, Microsoft, Volvo, and many others. His work has been recognized by The London International Advertising Awards, The New York Festivals of Advertising, The Crystals, The Extras, The Canadian Marketing Association, The Marketing Awards and others.

Currently, he is CEO of The Tite Group, a content marketing agency based in Toronto. He has also written for a number of television series, penned a children's book, and wrote, performed, and produced the play, The Canadian Baby Bonus. His first book, Everyone's An Artist (Or At Least They Should Be), will be published by HarperCollins in spring, 2015.

Visit to learn more.

Join us on January 29th - Tête-à-Tête is open to all Association and Not-For-Profit Executive Directors and Employees, Professional Meeting Planners and Government Procurers. Closed to Non-Exhibiting Suppliers.  AND, it's FREE.  Click here to register.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

David Usher (@davidusher) to Keynote at #CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau #TeteaTete

If you have not decided to register for Tête-à-Tête on January 29th, this may help make your decision for you.

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter is thrilled to announce, in conjunction with our Professional Development Partners Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre, that David Usher will be the Breakfast Keynote Speaker for the upcoming tradeshow - in the tradition of providing quality presentations at the show, and in celebration of Tête-à-Tête's 25th anniversary.

David Usher is a creative tour de force. As the front man of the internationally acclaimed rock band Moist, and as a solo artist, David has sold more than 1.4 million albums, won countless awards--including five Junos--and performed at sold-out venues around the world. Believing that creativity and creative success is a learnable skill that anyone can master, his unique and dynamic presentations employ music and video to show audiences the steps they can take to stimulate the creative process at home and at work.

When David is not making music, he is equally passionate about using technology to build new and interesting businesses. His company, Cloudid Creativity Labs,works on a vast range of innovative projects, from building web platforms to creative consulting for clients like Cirque du Soleil, Deloitte, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

David sits on the advisory board of McGill University's Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas and is is the founding director of Amnesty International's Artists for Amnesty.

David has a degree in political science from Simon Fraser University and has lived and traveled all over the world. When he's not on the road, he can be found in front of a computer dreaming up something new to create. His new book on creativity and the creative process is due in spring 2015, while his upcoming album will be released in September 2015. Visit for more information.

Join us on January 29th - Tête-à-Tête is open to all Association and Not-For-Profit Executive Directors and Employees, Professional Meeting Planners and Government Procurers. Closed to Non-Exhibiting Suppliers.  AND, it's FREE.  Click here to register.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Measuring Success in your Marketing & Communications

In November 2014, a number of marketing-communications professionals gathered in downtown Ottawa to discuss analytics and measurement challenges facing non-profits and associations.  The discussion was led by CSAE member Joe Boughner, the Director of Communications at the Association of Canadian Financial Officers and also an analytics instructor at Algonquin College.

The key takeaways for participants were to ensure first that marcomm (marketing-communications) efforts align both organizational goals and to the needs of your members at every stage of the life-cycle.  In so doing, Boughner argued, you allow yourself to align your marketing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with your overall corporate objectives.  He recommended that all organizations create detailed journey maps for their key persona's to help all stakeholders, not just marketing and communications people, understand the member experience better.  He also advised the group to ensure that there is a straight line between organizational and marketing objectives.

By way of example, the group brainstormed a model for an association that is looking to increase membership revenue.  First, the participants boiled it down to a measurable goal - to increase new members (as opposed to looking at retention, for example).  Then they concluded that marketing analytics could then align to this goal, such as click through rates on ads geared for new members; form completion rates on the sign up form, etc.

Moving forward, this focus on member needs and organizational objectives can make measurement easier, which ensures ongoing buy-in for your marcomm efforts.

This post was written by Joe Boughner, Association of Canadian Financial Officers, and originally featured in the OG CSAE Winter Executive.

Image courtesy of Keerati at

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Join us this year for #CSAE #TeteaTete January 29, 2015!

Will YOU be joining us for the 25th Anniversary of Tête-à-Tête (January 29th, 2015)?

This day-long event is open to all Association and Not-For-Profit Executive Directors and Employees, Professional Meeting Planners and Government Procurers. Closed to Non-Exhibiting Suppliers.

2015 marks the 25th anniversary of Tête-à-Tête, and we have lots to celebrate!  We recently wrote an article on our humble beginnings (click here to learn more).

This year, we will have a 25th Anniversary Reception, Great Prizes and over 160 Exhibitors and Sponsors.

Join us for a complimentary breakfast keynote presentation with David Usher, Juno Award-Winning Musician. David Usher is a creative tour de force. As the front man of the internationally acclaimed rock band Moist, and as a solo artist, David has sold more than 1.4 million albums, won countless awards--including five Junos--and performed at sold-out venues around the world. Believing that creativity and creative success is a learnable skill that anyone can master, his unique and dynamic presentations employ music and video to show audiences the steps they can take to stimulate the creative process at home and at work.

NEW for 2015, complimentary keynote lunch presentation. Branding and creativity expert Ron Tite exceeds expectations each and every time he takes the stage. Named one of the "Top 10 Creative Canadians" by Marketing magazine, the award-winning advertising writer and executive creative director addresses a variety of topics surrounding branding, corporate strategy, creativity and social media. Boasting training from Second City, Tite's presentations are not only information-packed, they're also infused with his unique humor--guaranteed to have you laughing while you learn.

The Tête-à-Tête Tradeshow with over 160 exhibitors and sponsors is your opportunity to get all the latest news from the premier suppliers to the association and meetings industry.

AND, did we tell you that registration is FREE?  Will you be joining us?