July 21, 2016
You work for an association. You love what you do and you’re good at your job. The association space has remained stagnant - yet comfortable for years. That’s when reality sets in: The only thing that is constant is change. Technology is seeping into the association world, turning everything upside down. What was once complacent is now unsure. In order to be better at your job - you will need to obtain some basic technology skills to keep you afloat. This doesn’t mean you need to be the next Bill Gates, but having basic knowledge of the technology that surrounds you will allow you to perform your job efficiently. If you already have these skills under your belt, you are ahead of the game. If not, it may be time increase your professional skill set.
Well, for starters: A lot. Many associations are sick and tired of using old, antiquated processes to manage its operations. Simply put, advanced technology makes staff members’ lives easier. By eliminating duplicate and manual data entry, staff members can get back to what they’re actually paid to do. The association landscape has changed, why not acquire skills that align with the impending changes? It’s only a matter of time before these skills are the norm, not an advantage.
The association world is in transition and staff members need to be equipped to handle their duties under evolving circumstances. By acquiring skills that surround technology - you will be able to take your duties to the next level within your association.
Content has been a hot topic and buzzword in the association space for quite some time. If you want to engage and educate your audience, you will need to generate compelling content. It’s not uncommon for associations to assign a content lead to take charge of this initiative (many of which have little experience doing so). These pieces will allow you to distribute your desired message to a large, targeted audience. Potential and current members want to attain knowledge from your organization - it is up to your to develop and disperse your message. To do this properly, you will need to understand what your members want to know.
What interests them? What are the overarching themes that keep them engaged? What big ideas can we break down into bite-sized pieces?
Once you’ve established pertinent topics and created some content, it’s important to segment the recipients in order to assure that they receive relevant information. It’s safe to say an IT Director probably isn’t interested in event planning ideas - keep it in sync.
Current and potential members need to be aware of the content that your association has to offer. Once you’ve created your article, blog post, infographic, white paper, etc - you’ll need to distribute these materials accordingly. Whether it’s including the links to landing pages within an email or posting your content on social media, your association will need to share the information in a timely manner.
People are no longer waiting by their mailboxes for monthly newsletters. Association professionals must understand the mediums in which members want to receive critical information. This may not seem like a critical skill, but by creating relevant, engaging and informational content, your association could see an influx in member engagement.
Data: Yet another buzzword in the association sphere. As an association professional, you’re probably already aware of the importance that data has within your organization. With data retrieval becoming easier, staff members need to understand what to do with it. Often times, you are asked to make decisions relative to the data that you analyze. How can you make those decisions if you aren’t sure what to look for? For association professionals to be the best they can be, they don’t need to just analyze data - they need to analyze the right data.
Depending on the department, staff members should be proficient and well-trained in the software(s) that they use to pull and track their data. Additionally, they should understand what data points they should be pulling. By effectively managing your data, you will be able to create proactive solutions to various situations and make data-driven decisions.
I know there is probably someone on your association’s payroll that is technically in charge of your website (and every IT effort for that matter). However, it’s important for every staff member to be somewhat proficient when it comes to their association’s website. This is the initial gateway members use to enter the world of your association. To make it the best it can be, you should be able to conduct basic housekeeping items when necessary. Whether it’s adding new content or updating a code, any knowledge helps. Nobody likes to be the IT Manager’s ball and chain, it’s important to learn basic website functions to keep your head above water.
Social media is not a new concept. This is something that has been around for years and almost everyone has dabbled in it. Since that’s the case, social media is always changing and evolving. To make sure your association doesn’t get left behind, it’s important to be aware of social media trends. 2016 has already been filled with them: live video streaming, mobile pay and visual searching are all the rage right now. A great skill to have is to keep a keen eye out for these trends, and implementing them into your social media strategy.
These skills may not be directly stated in your job description, but as technology becomes more prevalent in the association space, they may come in handy. These may seem like they’re just resume builders, but they could help you perform various functions of your job. Associations are changing, and it’s important for you to do the same.
To learn more about how technology is changing the association space, take a look at our white paper, The Future of Association Technology.