The boss has laid it down and said I can no longer attend our AuSAE luncheons for the delicious food, meeting new members and reminiscing with old members anymore – I need to do some work! So here is a wrap up of the second Networking Lunch Series for AuSAE this year.
AuSAE’s second Networking Lunch series for the year has just wrapped up with the last event held in Canberra on 31 July. This year our Networking Lunch events have been themed across all states: our first series held in March focused on the theme of “Leadership and navigating leadership through a changing external environment”. The most recent series in July focused on the topic “Member Engagement – Remaining Relevant in a Society of Choice”.
Associations are now operating in a fiercely competitive environment – likeminded people can interact, meet and join their own groups on Facebook, you can be a part of advocacy campaigns on any social media platform and information is everywhere. With so many changes in market, technology and social shifts the look and feel of membership is a changing organism – so how do we remain relevant and engage our members?
Our guest speakers in AuSAE’s second round of Networking Luncheons looked into these questions and provided insights into how their organisations are tackling member engagement.
Richard Stokes, Executive Director, Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA) and Tom Dunsmore, General Manager, ABSA kicked off the second lunch series in Brisbane on 11 July (Richard also spoke at the Perth luncheon). Richard and Tom spoke about ABSA’s journey and how they have kept 100% membership over the last four years. With a long list of member engagement activities – Richard and Tom talked about how they manage demands, prioritise and avoid burnout. Tom summarised a great presentation by simply saying “speak to your members, ask them what they want, visit them as much as you can face to face. Sometimes seeing them and giving your time is the most important member engagement strategy you can have.”
The AuSAE team then headed south to Sydney, the second event in the series with speaker, Martin Thomas, Operations Manager at St John Ambulance Australia NSW (Marty also spoke at the Canberra luncheon). Marty focused on how “marketing and communications is everything – if we can’t communicate the story then you won’t get the engagement. Find your best channel for your membership base and focus on that”.
Next up was Melbourne on the 25 July with guest speaker, Anthony Tassone, President, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia Victoria. Anthony shared great insights into the Guild and its methods for maintaining high member engagement. Anthony delivered key takeaways from his presentation particularly around marketing and communication strategies:
- “The best asset you have is your members – and the great things they are achieving and doing. Ensure you use them and those stories in your messaging and communications.”
- Anthony also emphasised the reminder that content is king – if you can, write as much content as you can for your members.
- Don’t forget about hard copy and the role it plays for engagement with members.
- My personal favourite take away from this lunch and the one I will leave with you is “Too many tweets, makes a twat”. Be visible on social media platforms but ensure you know your limit.
I then flew into Adelaide for lunch with guest presenter Kerrie Akkermans, CEO, Girl Guides SA. Like the other luncheons before hers Kerrie’s key message was focused on communications. Kerrie looked at how associations can leverage technology and still deliver meaningful communications to members. She discussed the importance of balancing your on and off line communications and how there is still a place for both when it comes to member engagement. “If you can it’s important to segment your communications as much as possible. Look at generational categorisation and if you can, segment further based on people’s personality characteristics”.
As you can see there was a definite trend across the speakers and the six events – if you can focus on anything look at your communications and marketing to members. Tell your story, listen to them and be heard.
Now I best do a bit of promotion around our next series of Networking Luncheons (keep the boss happy). AuSAE’s last and final series for the year will take place in October, and will focus on the theme of “The Next Gen – Is your Organisation Ready for the Next Generation”. We have a fantastic line up of speakers for this series, I have included links below to each state and I hope I can enjoy a drink with you, have a chat and see you soon in October.
To register for our upcoming Networking Lunches in October, please click on the below:
Sydney - Wednesday 4 October
Brisbane - Thursday 5 October
Canberra - Monday 9 October
Perth - Wednesday 11 October
Melbourne - Tuesday 24 October
Written by Kerrie Green, Events and Communications Manager, AuSAE