The catalyst for this blog came from my experiences at ASAE’s annual meeting in LA. Here are some of my professional and personal takeaways from this meeting.
Technology and social media continues to improve the annual meeting experience
Following the ASAE10 Twitter feed gave me a chance to learn what was going on in sessions I couldn’t attend. I made new Facebook friends and gained new people to follow on Twitter. Smartphone apps helped manage our schedules. Couldn’t attend in person, you could attend virtually. As a tech geek, having so many options to connect and communicate has made planning for and attending ASAE annual meetings fun.
Virtual friends became real friends
One of the highlights of ASAE was finally meeting two of my Twitter idols face to face, Kiki L’Italien (@kikltalien) and Deirdre Reid, CAE (@deirdrereid). Our interactions unfortunately were brief. However, I look forward to connecting with them and others I follow on Twitter (@sjreeves) as we continue this postmortem.
There’s a need for more programming on advocacy
Dear ASAE, you may be shocked to learn that association lobbyists and other government relations professionals attend the annual meeting. Another shocker, non-GR professionals may want advocacy sessions to help them prepare for, oh I don’t know, the CAE exam! While the programming has improved, there needs to be more. How about 2 advocacy sessions per day? Heck, you can just replicate some of the GR School sessions. It would be a start.
Networking can be more valuable than an educational session
While I attended some great sessions, I got so much more out of the networking aspect of the meeting. I gain more from a 30 minute conversation at lunch than being talked to for an hour and fifteen minutes. Speaking of which…
We need to challenge ourselves when it comes to sessions
The PowerPoint lecture is old and tired. Let’s do something different for a change. If the weather is nice, let’s hold a session outside. Do a walk and talk. Serve cookies and milk. Something that says ASAE is on the cutting edge of meetings. We talk about innovation. Now let’s actually do it.
Diversity and inclusion remains a challenge to achieve
I know this conversation is uncomfortable for many, but let’s have a frank discussion for a minute. D&I have become a sideshow at the annual meeting. You don’t see it in the general sessions. You don’t see it in the activities. You don’t even see it in the materials. Why? Because a lot of people don’t care. Until more of us care about this and call out those who should but don’t, this will remain an issue.
Never underestimate the power of connections
Without going into detail, I had a very moving and powerful experience with some colleagues during the meeting. I needed it more than they will ever realize. This experience has forced me to face the reality that I neglect some of my connections and may have to let go of others for my own sanity.
Some of the ASAE staff deserve a medal
From the minute they land in the host city to the minute they fly out, they are on call for us. Many do not get the recognition they deserve and have to deal with the crap we heap on them. A message to ASAE leadership: give these folks a break at least after 6 pm. Nothing is that critical that they have to deal with it at 11 pm. These people need to sleep and eat like the rest of us.
So now what?
Now that ASAE10 is over, how do I take the lessons learned and apply it so that becomes a part of me? Am I really going to have someone call me every day and ask 27 questions? No. However, I can schedule coffees, lunch or drinks with colleagues new and old. I can volunteer my time to plan advocacy sessions at ASAE11. I can even write up my own proposal. We all have a hand in making this meeting and our association better.