When you hear the words “professional association chapter meeting,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind: “great place to learn new things and meet new people,” “same people; same chicken dinner,” or “wow, I need to get myself to a meeting”?
As an active member and president-elect for the Michigan Chapter of ISPI, the first thought that comes to my mind is — where is everyone?
The role of professional associations in my career development has been, and continues to be, key to my career. I’ve been involved with some sort of professional association since before I joined Innovative Learning Group. I’ve tried different associations, including ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International), the Detroit Chapter of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), and the Association for Talent Development. I landed on ISPI (International Society for Performance Improvement) because I found this organization to be the right mix of interest, value, and convenience.
What I’ve discovered from being on ISPI’s board and attending many different association meetings is that professional association meetings don’t often pack the house anymore. I’ve heard the “legends” about how at one time chapter meetings would attract 75-100 people, and that people would come early and stay late to network. I think we can agree that this is probably a bygone era.
But why? Are we all just too busy now? Is there less interest in face-to-face networking? Is it a generational thing? I sense it’s a combination of all these things as well as the influence of technology. With webinars, e-learning, social media and the like, the need for face-to-face contact is falling by the wayside. Is this good a good thing? Maybe, maybe not.
Now, I can give you reasons as to why you should attend chapter meetings … professional development, networking, etc. But are these reasons the types of value you need to engage? I’m going to say ‘probably not’. It’s evident from meeting attendance that for most people going to chapter meetings simply isn’t the priority it used to be.
So, let me pose some questions to you:
- What’s the most important thing we can do as association leaders to get you involved?
- How would you keep a professional association’s mission alive while incorporating new and fresh ideas to attract new members without alienating the long-time members?
- What would make joining associations and attending meetings more valuable to you?
I’d really like to read your answers. Either comment on this blog, or email me directly at mike.blahnik@innovativeLG.com. Perhaps together we can bring chapter meetings back to their former glory and better meet the needs of all members.