When three well-known American book authors and speakers par excellence on association management got together for the first time in a webinar series, I did not hesitate to attend this “can’t-miss” event.
The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE), through its CEO Toni Brearley, did a great job in getting all three to speak on a topic most dear to the hearts of association executives: membership.
As an association executive myself and long-time member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), I have known these three talented and entrepreneurial women—Mary Byers, Sheri Jacobs and Sarah Sladek—through their books and articles they wrote.
Mary, author of seven books, is co-author of “Race for Relevance: Five Radical Changes for Associations” and “Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations.” She is a certified association executive and a member of the National Speakers Association.
Sheri is the author of “Pivot Point: Reshaping Your Business When It Matters Most.” She is an association management veteran with nearly 20 years of experience, and founder of Avenue M Group, a full-service market research and consulting agency.
Sarah’s five books include “The End of Membership As We Know It” and “Talent Generation.” She is the founder and CEO of XYZ University, a future-focused management consulting firm. She is also the founder of the Save the Associations, a virtual conference and web show.
The three panelists shared many great ideas and stories but this column won’t be able to accommodate all of them. Here are a few that resonated with me:
All three were optimistic that associations will continue to grow despite the disruptive effects of the coronavirus pandemic. However, they believe associations will need to innovate and try new things, collaborate more to accelerate opportunities, and review their value proposition and membership models.
One membership model given was “B1G1,” or “Buy one, give one” in which one joins as a member, and the association will give one free membership to whomever it thinks will benefit or to an unserved or underserved constituency, e.g., a young professional.
There was also consensus on the need for associations to develop an “embracing” mindset rather than being threatened by the current crisis and focusing on how to deal with it. This is true in terms of technology adaptation and digital transformation for associations.
In her parting words of wisdom for associations, Sheri mentioned that pandemics are “mothers of inventions” in the context that there will be new opportunities for innovation in associations. Sarah encouraged associations to be “Day 1” organizations as if they are just starting today with a clean slate, getting rid of mediocre things and aspiring to being the best.
Mary urged associations to have their own “North Star” to guide their decisions whether one for the whole organization or one for each aspect of operations, e.g. staff, budget, etc.
I enjoyed the webinar and was awed by the great minds of the all-star panel!
The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific and the Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives. PCAAE is holding the Associations Summit 8 on November 25 and 26, 2020 at the Philippine International Convention Center which is expected to draw over 200 association professionals here and abroad. The two-day event is supported by Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board, and the PICC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on AS8.