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Brainstorms, Brands, Boards and Better Meetings: Our Top Posts of 2015

Brainstorms, Brands, Boards and Better Meetings: Our Top Posts of 2015

Happy New Year! As associations reflect on last year and solidify their plans for this one, I thought it appropriate to take a look back at some of our most read blog posts of 2015. Interestingly they focus on the issues and trends that were not only relevant then, but will continue to be so in 2016.

The most read post of 2015 talks about innovation. In our work with association customers, we’ve found that this is an area in which many of them would like to see more progress. As noted, I agreed with author Dorie Clark’s assertion that each of us as unique individuals sees the world differently from anyone else. If we trust that vision, we can innovate in our organizations.

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Clear Your Vision before You Plan

Clear Your Vision before You Plan

In the excitement that comes with looking forward to the New Year, organizations sometimes jump into planning before carefully evaluating the goals, values, and objectives that need to inform that process. The desire to simply have a plan in place can overtake the discernment it takes to step back and re-evaluate what an organization is currently doing and would like to do in the future. Recently, I came across an example of an organization that seemed to be on the right track in terms of reconsidering its mission, vision and values before planning for 2016 gets underway.

Last month the board of directors of Charlotte Pride outlined the steps they have taken to continue the organization’s strategic and sustainable growth. Charlotte Pride, an organization that brings together the largest gathering of LGBTQ people in the Carolinas, recently adopted a new mission, vision and value statements.

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Resolve to Plan Better Content: 3 RePlatform Solutions for 2016

Resolve to Plan Better Content: 3 RePlatform Solutions for 2016

It’s that time of year when most of us start thinking about our personal and professional goals. What will we do better next year than we did this year? Which bad habits will we resolve to break? And how successful will we be in adopting the good ones we believe will make us better people and professionals in 2016?

Year after year, improving health and overall wellness tops the list of rePlatform Solutions that Americans make for the New Year. I would suggest that associations apply that same principle in re-evaluating how they generate content for their members and other stakeholders. Associations generate a lot of useful content, but some pieces are better presented than others.

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The Gift of Leadership

The Gift of Leadership

At this time of year, as we carefully select holiday gifts for family, friends and colleagues, our generosity is usually at an all-time high. Many of us also donate our time or funds to support charitable organizations as well. For these reasons, the final months of year, usually late November through December, are often referred to as the season of giving.

And while it is heartwarming to see so many people engaged in giving, my thoughts turned to the most important gift association executives can give their organizations year round, generosity of spirit in leadership. In fact, to be truly effective, leadership and generosity go hand in hand.

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Setting Up Your Social Calendar for Success

Setting Up Your Social Calendar for Success

Most of us have already started adding meetings, appointments and other tasks to our calendars for next year. In most cases, those activities that get planned usually get done rather than falling into a no man’s land of things we meant to do but just didn’t get to. Unfortunately, social media sometimes falls into the latter category for too many associations.

Once you’ve established your organization’s presence on the ever-growing array of social networks/channels, you definitely need a plan and a content calendar in order to make the most of these communications. Stephen Waddington, chief engagement officer at Ketchum, recently outlined eight areas of social and digital planning for 2016 on the company’s blog. Four of them caught my attention as being particularly relevant for associations:

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Marketing & Communications Planning for 2016: 5 Key Questions

Marketing & Communications Planning for 2016: 5 Key Questions
Marketing & Communications Planning for 2016: 5 Key Questions

The number of channels available for associations to use in their marketing and communications efforts only continues to grow. Members’ expectations for how and when you communicate with them have also expanded right along with the number of channels available for doing so. With so many options, it will take careful planning to determine which ones have been and will be most effective for your organization.

I like the approach to communications and marketing planning for the New Year that Cheryl Smithem of Charleston Public Relations and Design recently outlined in a post on the firm’s website. “The greatest issue is knowing where you want to take your business in the coming year. Answering this question requires honesty and truthfulness with yourself,” she wrote.

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Disruptions, Data and Determination: ASAE’s 2015 Technology Conference

Disruptions, Data and Determination: ASAE’s 2015 Technology Conference

Today we’re onsite at ASAE’s Technology Conference in Washington, DC. While we’re here, we hope that we’ll get to meet with many of you. Please stop by and check out the Fonteva Lounge (Booth #539 on the tradeshow floor). You can enter to win an Apple Watch, charge your cell phone and pick up some cool swag while relaxing and networking with colleagues.

Among other topics, you can talk with them about what you’ve learned as you traveled along the five pathways around which the conference is structured. They range from leadership and technology to the business of IT. In line with the conference theme, one pathway is devoted entirely to disruption and determining how your organization can lead technology change.

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5 Key Traits of Great Entrepreneurs from Uber's CEO

5 Key Traits of Great Entrepreneurs from Uber's CEO

Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick just made the short list of candidates for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Some think he deserves the honor while others don’t, and I’ll leave that debate to the plethora of pundits and social commentators who will likely offer their perspective on the matter.

However, I was intrigued by comments Kalanick made about entrepreneurship last month while addressing students and faculty at Miami Dade College. As reported by the Miami Herald’s Nancy Dahlberg, he said of entrepreneurship, “It’s a long journey and you have to push to a point where it hurts. ”

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The Get Away Plan

The Get Away Plan

“There’s too much going on right now.” “We don’t have time to stop and plan.” Perhaps, you’ve heard these expressions in the halls at your association. If you’re not careful, planning for the New Year is one of those exercises that will constantly fall off your ever growing list of things to do. It might be worth it to get away for a day to do nothing but plan.

In a post to the company’s blog, Richard D. Maher, president and CEO of Maher & Maher, a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm with offices in New Jersey and D.C., reflected on a recent trip he took to the Jersey Shore with his senior staff members. “We worked to identify growth opportunities as well as to address areas we want to improve as a Firm in 2016 and beyond,” he wrote.

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Tis the Season to Plan: 3 Strategies for Success

Tis the Season to Plan: 3 Strategies for Success

As we begin the last month of year (if not before), our thoughts usually turn to our goals and objectives, which sometimes take the form of rePlatform Solutions, for the New Year. Just as we identify our personal goals for the coming year, associations might turn their attention to the best approaches for addressing their strategic priorities in 2016.

For many organizations, focusing on upcoming goals typically means making an annual plan. As Forbes.com contributors Bill Fotsch and John Case observe in their recent post, those words—annual plan—can “just drain the energy from the room.” Why? In too many organizations, creating the annual plan is an exclusive activity reserved for senior staff at a retreat instead of an inclusive one that involves stakeholders at all levels. Instead of an exclusive exercise, Fotsch and Case recommend a more “open-book” approach to the planning process that hinges on three best practices:

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An Attitude of Gratitude: #Thankful

An Attitude of Gratitude: #Thankful

Last week, many of you probably enjoyed a traditional meal of turkey and all the fixings surrounded by family and friends. And at some of these gatherings, people took a moment to share what they were most thankful for.

This month I’ve dedicated a number of posts to exploring different ways associations can show their appreciation to staff, members, and volunteers. Many of them emphasized the importance of making “saying thanks” a regular part of how we communicate with each other rather than using these words on special occasions and holidays.

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A Time for Thanks

A Time for Thanks

As our thoughts turn to being thankful and celebrating with family and friends, we might also take a moment to thank our staff members. Some managers might think, “They know how much I appreciate them.” Others might take this view, “Why am I thanking them for doing their jobs?”

Saying thanks is not only a good way to treat employees, study after study suggests that appreciation for a job well done translates into increased productivity and overall job satisfaction. When Monster surveyed workers in the UK, 63 percent said they’d take a verbal thank-you in place of a bonus when they’d “gone the extra mile” on the job. According to an online survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, when asked what gives them a high sense of satisfaction at work, 55 percent of employees said receiving a "thank you" from their direct manager.

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Calling All Innovators

Calling All Innovators

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
—Steve Jobs

Most organizations strive to be in the former category. I feel certain that all of our association customers want to be leaders and innovators in the professions and industries that they represent. However, the desire for innovation doesn’t make it so.

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We Gobble Up Video

We Gobble Up Video

I am a fan of associations using video to not only tell their members’ stories more effectively but to educate them about their membership benefits. I’ve written about how video influences purchasing decisions as well as which metrics are most important to measure to determine the value of videos. We use our videos to highlight the successes our customers have had using Fonteva For Associations.

Video is such a powerful channel, so I hope it’s an integral component of your overall communications plan. Consider this forecast from the Cisco Visual Networking Index:

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Three Ways to Say Thank You from the CXPA

Three Ways to Say Thank You from the CXPA

How hard is it to say, “thank you”? The answer might surprise you. Some customers feel like they don’t hear it enough.

You might have had this experience yourself. You make a purchase, and at the end of the transaction, the store’s employee hands your receipt and moves on to the next person in line. What’s missing from this scenario? A simple “thank you” might have made you even more likely to return to that store.

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Let Us Count the Ways to Repurpose Content

Let Us Count the Ways to Repurpose Content

Creating and maintaining relevant, useful content for their members is one of the most important day-to-day functions of associations. Their members rely on them as a trusted source of information that they use to stay informed and ultimately do their jobs better. Of course some content is more “popular” than others.

When members respond positively to a magazine article or blog post, have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a way that we could extend the life of this content”? Extending the life of content is an important consideration that requires as much planning and strategizing as the creation of the content itself, especially since your audience’s expectations have only grown in terms of the variety of formats in which they expect to access content.

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Thanks, Team!

Thanks, Team!

“Showing appreciation is not a matter of time and intention; rather, it's a matter of priority and action.”

Lee Colan, founder of the L Group and author of Leadership Matters, made this important observation in an article he wrote for Inc.com about simple ways you can thank your team. It seems obvious that you would thank your team for a job well done. However, most employees indicate that they rarely receive recognition for their work.

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Vulnerability and Leadership: Yes, They Go Together.

Vulnerability and Leadership: Yes, They Go Together.

If you are leader in your organization, especially if you’re new in your role, you might think that vulnerability is the last trait you want to show the members of your team. Instead, you think that you need to be authoritative and take charge. In fact, you’ve decided to give the appearance of being as Teflon-like as possible.

Well, according Deb Fullerton, a partner with professional development firm PMA Philadelphia, that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do unless you want to alienate your team completely. In a recent post to PMA’s blog, Fullerton made the case that “vulnerability has a clear role to play in building trust with the people you are relying on to collaborate and problem solve with you on a daily basis.” No one expects you to have the answer to every question or the solution to every problem.

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4 Ways to Show Your Thanks

4 Ways to Show Your Thanks

“We know you have a choice when flying; thank you for flying American.” With this relatively simple slogan, American Airlines acknowledged a very important component of engaging with customers: saying thank you.

Your members have choices too. You may not be their only source for information and events highlighting their industry or profession. As such, it’s always a good idea to express your appreciation for their continued engagement with your organization.

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The Content Conundrum: Open for All or Behind the Member Wall

The Content Conundrum: Open for All or Behind the Member Wall

Most of us working in the association community would agree that content is king. Now where exactly that “king” should sit and who gets access to his throne is an entirely different matter.

With the increase in digital access to information, some association executives make a convincing argument for open access. Still others make an equally valid argument in favor of maintaining a member wall behind which the best content can be found.

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