Saturday, August 29, 2009

Interesting topic for business dinners

A topic that I found interesting at two recent business dinners (which I brought up, thus the fact it happened twice) is what's on your bucket list. Bucket list being what you'd really like to do or accomplish before you die (a.k.a., "kick the bucket"). And what you've already done that might have been on that list.

It's really fascinating what people want to do. And it never seems to involve a job (current or future).

Also ... here's an earlier post on other conversation starters.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

3 Blog Posts to Think About

Here are 3 blog posts that made me think:

1. The Incoming Chairman Speech. Do we want to hear about their passion for the association or their passion for the industry? When they're introduced, what are we saying about our incoming chairman? Interesting insight from Kevin Holland, who has clearly heard a lot of annual meeting speeches.

2. Why CEOs Don't Blog. Can a CEO really write an Op-Ed on any controversial topic (not connected to their position) and claim it's just personal opinion? When are we "not" considered the CEO in our thoughts or actions from the standpoint of association leadership and membership? Maggie McGary questions how the "personal brand" applies.

3. 7 Ways the Internet is Improving our Writing. That's right, Jeff Cobb says social media and the Internet are improving our writing skills, not ruining them: We're writing more, writing for an actual audience, learning to be concise, blending with other media, and more. Are we becoming improved writers because we have no choice with the expansion of needing to write in so many formats?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

18 tips for association execs - picked up virtually (from ASAE09)

Here's an assortment of tips that I picked up on Twitter and other social media during the ASAE conference (that I did not attend in person.) Note: tried to credit the original person who posted a tweet, picture, or post. Info in brackets is my additional comment.

1. When permanent marker accidentally gets on whiteboard, write over it with fresh whiteboard marker and wipe off (@cindyhugg)

2. 10-20-30 rule for effective presentations: 10 slides, speak 20 minutes max, allow 30 minutes for questions (@PBBsRealm

3. How are you recognizing the virtual volunteer? Special web badge, or signature on their web page to recognize time (in months, not years) (@christyj)

4. Do you track member twitter accounts, blogs, etc. in your AMS? Should you? (@cardcat)

5. Do you know about Check it out. You register your name across many social media platforms. (@carolvangorp)

6. Need job description for staff with social media roles - and volunteers; plus code of conduct for how members interact with each other. (@christyj

7. When calling lapsed members, don't say "we haven't seen you lately" - Just reminds them! Ask to participate in survey, etc. [I think alternate approach like this needed for conference attendees who have not registered yet too] (@christyj

8. Mobile marketing has potential for dues reminders, voting, special offers, news, more [Need to come up with "special offers"] (@MemberClicks

9. Email annoyances: reply all, distribution lists, "thank you," forwards, subject lines, buried action, logo attachments, etc. [Sometimes I will send 1 or 2 in a group their own individual email instead of group email if they are serial reply to all peeps] (@aaronwoloweic

10. FYI is the vaguest subject line most overused in the world. [FYI - I am big offender on this one] (@aaronwoloweic

11. Use Build-a-Bear someway, somehow [Apparently long lines for in in St. Louis booth at trade show - "even Candy Spelling" stood in line for one] (@msazuri - guessing this pic is the infamous Build-a-Bear?)

12. Do something creative with camera phone postcards - post on Twitter (@msazuri)

13. Consider creating a twibbon for an association cause. [But less is more - need room for person's pic]

14. Time for all presenters to get some training on news-style TV reporting. It will help with virtual talks [such as using Ustream and interacting with virtual audience too] (@jeffhurt)

15. Use "the Favorite Game" as an interesting way to create an online interview for blog or website post (Kristin Clarke)

16. Ask attendees what they'd like for the next year's conference, and post them on your association site. At a minimum, shows you heard them. (@ljunker)

17. Think about why and how you use "celebrities" - Candy Spelling at an association executives conference? At the trade show? On a stage? [I don't even want to talk about my experiences with Fabio and Erik Estrada at NAR meetings - or how surreal it was to hear Florence Henderson stop by a National Directors meet to sing "God Bless America"]

18. Last tip: Read attendee blog summaries to see what they learned ... or call an attendee and ask!

Thanks to all who presented and posted!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

15 Thoughts from a Virtual Attendee (ASAE09)

First, the acronym: ASAE09 is the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) 2009 Meeting & Expo - held in Toronto the past few days. This year I was a virtual attendee. Meaning, I didn't go to Toronto - but tried to see what I could learn through social media, while it was happening; along with seeing what to possibly incorporate into my own organization and/or presentations.

What I learned about conference sites, materials, and preparing for social media users:

1. Conference site needs to change before, during and after a conference to reach changing audience needs.
2. Post handouts early. Helps attendees decide what to attend. Great for virtual attendees too. [Note: Great handouts posted anyone can look at now too!]
3. Keep schedule and speaker bios posted so virtual attendees know what/who in the world the Twitter users are talking about when they shorten session and speaker names to "Li" and "Jeff DC".
4. Don't over-complicate it. Those attending virtually likely already use social media.
5. Live-stream when can, and if on video post on YouTube as soon as possible. Loved those.
6. Try UStream for individual sessions. It's free and it worked. One speaker, Jeff De Cagna, totally engaged virtual attendees by conversing with us on UStream and taking twitter questions while live audience did group exercises. [Note: fast forward at least 15 min if you watch the video]
7. Have your meeting rooms prepared for attendees with electronics - wireless, extension cords, outlets.
8. Surveying attendees. Live attendees got an electronic survey. Virtual should too.
9. Consider prize drawing. Trade show and live attendees had prize drawings, announced on Twitter. Maybe there should have been one for virtual attendees? (and NOT for "most tweets")
10. Add Twitter to announcement options - ASAE announced range of lost & found items on Twitter. Also posts with links to names of award recipients and names of prize winners. That's easy to do.

If you are tweeting a conference: (and want to be nice to virtual attendees)

1. Use your camera phone more. I was dying to see what the Build-A-Bears that created huge lines in the ASAE trade show actually looked like (the bears themselves, not the line); the "cool" business cards mentioned; and who Velma is (the incoming chair of ASAE). No pics. Although I did find Velma [Hart] on ASAE site.

2. Thank you for using the hashtag and adding links. Found so much info due to the correct use of hashtags by attendees using Twitter. There were 500+ who sent at least one tweet. Many were likely tweeting for their own followers - but all virtual attendees could benefit from their use of links to handouts, etc.

3. Be careful with big twibbon (or adjust your photo accordingly). [Sorry: new word alert - click and you'll recognize a twibbon] Noticed Livestrong, anti-Michael Vick helmets, a planet-theme globe/ball and words Yap and Star image across an opaque gray bar. Virtual attendees may not know you, so don't obstruct your face [Note: on TweetDeck twibboned image can look like a star is coming out of your nose or a ball coming out of your mouth.] A clear unobstructed photo or avatar will help virtual attendees see you.

Lesson: Twibbons can be a great way to show a cause. But try them out for size. Less is more when dealing with extremely small images that display.

4. Keep showing us tips. Really appreciated when tweets included very specific tips - that's what we hope to leave any conference with - even virtually. Will post my favorite tips in separate post tomorrow.

5. Teach by example. A few attendees announced on Twitter they wanted to share a cab from/to airport. Good idea. I'm always scanning cab lines seeing if any chance someone at same conference to share a cab with. Will try a "who's in line at O'Hare" tweet. As we watch how ASAE and its attendees use so many communications methods, it's helpful in learning what to do (or not do or change) in our own associations.

Thanks to all involved!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Snappy Video about AE Connecting ...

Check out this music video ASAE did for their Annual Meeting & Expo in Toronto ...

1. Singers and musicians from various associations;
2. The messages: "connect with me," "reaching out a hand to hold," "when you want some understanding," "an ear to lend," etc.
3. On YouTube the same day it played at the meeting.

This profession would be less enjoyable and far more difficult without AE connections.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Those Cartoon Avatars on Twitter and Facebook

I've been noticing cute and fairly accurate cartoon avatars of people I know on Facebook and Twitter. Asked a colleague where she created hers. Here's the answer:

"It was something AMC did to promote the upcoming season of Mad Men. Here's the link."

Not a red enough hair color option for me though!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Affirmation of the Day

The original version of this quote is in a post on a real estate agent site (AgentGenius) - but I believe by switching one word [in brackets], can apply to association execs. While granting that there are those things beyond repair and strengthening [see Serenity Prayer for that].

Today's affirmation:

"I am in a constant state of evaluation - I will repair only what is broken, strengthen what is weak, revitalize what is worn, and will always be open-minded to change and the desires of my [members] - they are what matter most."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Team building idea for a challenging economy

With association line items on the chopping block in a challenging economy, team-building efforts and planning sessions can be restructured, downsized or entirely eliminated. I recently attended a session that had limited actual issues discussion or training, and instead focused on all of us getting to know each other and working together on random things. Because the session was in a destination known for arts, the focus was art.

The activities: arts and crafts. Materials are easily found in many homes or available at low costs from many stores: Colored chalk, watercolor paint, magazines (for cutting out pictures), magic markers, glitter, yarn, pipe cleaners, canvas, etc. Facilitators, if needed, can be local art teachers (from schools, camps, studios, youth programs, churches).

In one activity we worked in groups to define the coming year on giant canvases. Did individual drawings on notebook paper, then discussed what a design would look like on a flip chart, then put the image on a canvas (the size of a queen-sized bed) using variety of art supplies. Bonus: We discussed the coming year.

In another activity, we went to an art studio (could just as easily have been a large garage, barn or school/church activity room) and worked in small groups to do self-portraits. One group of 6 did watercolors, another did "Picassos" of themselves with chalk, another had materials for 3-dimension "sculptures", the last did collages using magazine pictures. It was stuff I used to do in vacation bible school when a tween - except without the religion. Then we judged pictures on "best in show", "looks most like the artist", "most likely to sell commercially." Bonus: We discovered real artistic talents in the group.

1. Team-building can be creative and inexpensive. There is value in fun group activities.
2. Think about the types of activities youth groups do - how about a whiffle ball or kickball game? With room for cheerleaders for those who'd rather support from the sidelines. Even pizza and bowling could be lower cost then big dinner events. Or remember doing paper mache with a certain theme on coke bottles?
3. Have you considered facilities like school buildings and art studios for your session?
4. Shorten the update part. Session ended with a 45-minute summary of what happening and expected in each area of organizational focus. Presenters had two-minutes each to give highlights for their area of focus. That was actually plenty of time and participants still managed to get overview of scope of everything needing to be accomplished in the coming year. Does association staff traditionally spend too much time on the "update" sections thinking leaders have to get lots and lots of details about everything? What happens if they get 2 minutes each?

A bonus to participation in association activities is often characterized as "the people I met." Give them a shared experience that doesn't have anything to do with debating issues or listening to updates the entire time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Modern Grammar Rules?

It was bad enough that my daughter had a "talk" with me about some unwritten rule about frequency of posting pictures with status on Facebook ... but then I found this in my Twitter feed (via @joerominiecki):

"Want to show everyone how freakin' old you are? Keep putting two spaces after periods when you type." Which then points to a Grammar Girl article.

Uh oh, no two spaces? Read the article and you can learn the difference between monospaced fonts on typewriters and proportional fonts on computers. With the latter leading to the "logical" use of one space after a period.

I've been typing (quickly, I might add) since 8th grade typing class. Not sure this can be unlearned.

Separately, the same article also differentiates when an animal is a "who" and not a "that." And agrees the beloved family pet gets to be a who, while you can consider anyone else's pet or random animal a that.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Outdoor events: that sinking feeling

Nothing like outdoor events ... that can include sinking into the grass if wearing heels. Here's a solution. Only $10. The other solution is flat heels.