Your members look to your association for help with professional development. Here are five ways to elevate professional development opportunities at your association’s events.

If your association is like most, events are a big deal. Not only are they a great source of non-dues revenue, but they’re also a large part of the value proposition for your members. One of the top ways your events offer member value is by providing educational opportunities that help members with their professional development.

Let’s look at five ways to elevate professional development at your association events:

Ask your members what professional development help they need.

You might have an idea of the types of professional development your members are seeking. But it can help to ask your members for more details about the specific help they need.

Send a survey to your members to ask about their professional development goals and how your association events can help. For example:

  • Do they need more training and education about particular industry topics?
  • Are there specific certifications and/or credentials that they need to grow professionally?
  • Are they looking for leadership development training? How about soft skills, such as interpersonal communications and management skills?

TIP: YourMembership association management software (AMS) by Community Brands has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and get feedback.

Assess your event sessions and workshops.

Based on survey feedback, review your event sessions and workshops to see how topics align with what your members need. Develop a plan to fill any gaps or adjust your event plans to deliver more of the professional development opportunities your members want.

As part of this process, consider what industry experts and thought leaders you can recruit to deliver the content. Also, think about partnering with relevant organizations or institutions in your industry to provide continuing education credits that your members might need.

Use your online community to promote professional development at your events.

Many of your members are already engaging through your online community. So, use that engagement to promote the professional development opportunities around your events.

For example, post announcements about the professional development opportunities available at your events in your online community. You can also watch discussions in your online community for mentions of professional development topics you’ll be covering at your events; then, comment on those discussions to let members know they can attend your events for more training and educational opportunities around those topics.

TIP: YourMembership includes functionality to help you develop a thriving online member community. By using the “Quick Announcement” area in the online community, you can easily promote your events. You can also set up discussion groups in your online community so that members with similar interests can share ideas and information with each other.

Streamline continuing education credits.

Use technology to make it easier to track who attended each event and session, and then automatically award the appropriate number of credits to each attendee. Make things even easier on your members and staff by automatically sending emails when members have earned credits and by allowing your members to log in to a member portal to view their continuing education credits and certifications.

TIP: Using YourMembership AMS, you can easily track and award continuing education credits for your event attendees and allow members to easily view their credits and certifications.

Extend professional development beyond the event.

You put a lot into offering professional development opportunities at your events. So, be sure to get the most out of your work. For example:

  • Offer key content from your in-person events after each event through an online experience. This allows you to stretch your investment in on-site content further while extending the reach of your professional development content to more members.

TIP: Use Freestone learning management system (LMS) by Community Brands, which integrates with YourMembership AMS, to easily organize professional development content and deliver a modern and convenient online continuing education experience.

  • Set up discussion groups in your online community that align with professional development topics from your events. After each event, point attendees to the corresponding online community group to discuss ideas from the session. Kick off discussions by posting questions such as:
    • What was your biggest takeaway from the session or event?
    • What are your biggest challenges around [topic]?
    • What are your predictions for the future about [topic]?
  • Keep an eye on discussions about professional development topics from your events to uncover ideas for future event content.


Discover more tips for successful association events.

Even with a small staff, your organization can create valuable experiences for your event attendees. Learn more ways to plan successful association events: Read the guide, The Small Staff’s Guide to Planning Great Association Events: Simple Techniques and Genius Tech Tips for Creating Next-Level Events.

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