When I heard about the AMA Regional retreat in Vancouver, B.C., I was a resounding yes to attend. A trip to a foreign country to talk about marketing? Count me in! I hadn’t visited our neighbors to the north since 1986, so it was time to dust off the passport and pack some wool. The journey was short but as soon as we stepped off of the plane, we knew we were in a foreign land. Our motley crew of five was thrilled to have time to explore beautiful Canada during our time away. It was 48 hours of local brews, amazing food and sunny skies (we lucked out!). The people were friendly, the style on point and the conversations invigorating. Our region is full of smart folks from BC, Reno, Seattle, Denver, the Bay area and Alaska. Although our crowds are unique, there were a few things that kept coming up in Van City:
- Have a plan and a goal but go with the flow.
Sometimes we over plan or want to throw the most complicated event ever. Don’t. Remember that we’re a volunteer organization. Avoid overthinking and remember to divide and conquer. Teamwork makes the dream work.
- Remember to say thank you early and often.
Members like attention. Write a blog about a great volunteer. Tag people on social media. Give out awards for good deeds. Gratefulness works and builds upon itself.
- Make it simple to RSVP and attend events.
Use the 5 W’s of journalism school: who, what, when, where, why. Let people easily see what your event is and why they should come. Think about vibe and location when planning meet-ups.
- Spend $$ to make money.
Give away tickets to events. Offer discounts. Get butts in the seats while creating excitement.
- Know your audience.
What are your members excited about and drawn to? Pay attention and do more of that. Ask questions and listen when your constituents tell you what’s missing and what’s divine.
- Use partners.
Life is more fun with friends. Ease the workload and invite more folks in one fell swoop by creating community. Create partnerships that are win-win situations.
- Don’t only do events.
Practice what you preach. Create online and offline opportunities to truly connect and teach best practices. Portland’s mentorship and community involvement were unique offerings that added a slice of the PNW.
Collaboration, commitment and community were the three Cs of the weekend that kept coming up. Honor people’s time and vision and create true relationships that last. Remember why you became a member and stick to the mission of the AMA which is to connect and inspire. Innovate and recalibrate as necessary. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with good people in a wonderful place and can’t wait to see the next adventures of the AMA PDX.