By the CSAE Trillium FORUM Editorial Committee
As a Business Member of the CSAE Trillium Network, you have a unique opportunity to connect with Association Executives from across Ontario looking for products, services, and expertise that will help their associations thrive in the future. But how do you ensure those connections are lasting and meaningful?
FORUM recently sat down with four of the Trillium Network’s Business Members and asked them to share their best tips and tricks on how to foster meaningful connections and create engagement touchpoints.
Darryl Andree, Business Development Manager, Brand Blvd.
“The best way to get value from your CSAE membership is to engage, engage and engage!” says Andree. As for how he best engages? Andree urges fellow Business Members to go to as many events as possible and to be completely present and in the moment while there. “Sit with someone new, interact with people that you have never met before, ask to be introduced to someone,” he elaborates.
On a larger level, Andree shares that the CSAE is built to provide positive exchanges between Association Executives and Business Members. He is adamant that Business Members should take advantage of those opportunities for exchange and that it’s important to be your authentic self. “Dare to be different!” he exclaims. Though not for the faint of heart, Andree even suggests dancing on stage at CSAE events as a creative way to get noticed!
As for what not to do? Andree cautions that “the associations industry is a people business. As much as I love other Business Members, don’t huddle together” and close yourself off to potential new connections.
Katelyn Bernard, Association Sales Manager, Vintage Hotels
“Volunteer!” Bernard shares. She recently volunteered for the network holiday gala herself and had a wonderful experience. “It was a great opportunity to get to know people within the CSAE and it helped me appreciate all the hard work that goes into the events I get to attend!”
She also encourages Business Members to attend smaller events, not just the big conferences. “I’ve made some great connections with people at PDX events and the young professional events,” she explains. Sometimes those smaller events can provide more opportunities for in-depth conversations.
Lastly, Bernard reminds fellow Business Members that they need to think about the bigger picture. “You’re not always going to talk to someone that is going to book a piece of business with you right after each event you attend. Great conversations and genuine connections with people can eventually lead to business.” It’s all about planting a seed for the future.
Sherry Lucia, Tourism Product Development Specialist – Convention Sales, Tourism Hamilton
“The value of your CSAE membership is in your networks”, Lucia says. Your relationships with the people in your network should be symbiotic, all about give and take. Ideally, these people “want to help you and you want to help them. This is very powerful.”
Lucia also suggests that Business Members “surround themselves with positive people who are going to push them toward greatness.” She maintains that if you get involved, volunteer your time and invest in your relationships that you will attract the same energy in return.
Sandra Moniz, Business Development Manager, Meetings + Conventions Calgary
“When I first joined the CSAE, I didn’t quite understand the difference between the Association Executive and Business Member categories,” Moniz begins. “However, over the years I have made it a priority to understand the differences, and, most importantly, to see the similarities and opportunities for partnerships. The CSAE Business Member provides a product or service with direct benefit to an association.” She urges others to look at the relationship between the two member categories this way, and to look at the CSAE itself as a safe space that “provides regular face-to-face opportunities to forge relationships, trust, and allow fellow members to get to know one another.”
As a Business Development Manager, when Moniz started out with the CSAE, she needed to find a way to connect with associations to educate them on the services she could provide. “I not only joined the CSAE as a Business Member but jumped in with both feet to volunteer and become a visible and trusted member.” This created multiple opportunities for her to learn more about how associations operate and to better understand the specifics of what they are looking for in a business partner.
For Moniz, the value in partnering with a CSAE Business Member is quite clear – you get the benefit of working “with someone that you know, trust, and has taken the time to get to know how associations work. Relationships fostered at the CSAE provide the framework for trusted opportunities for both Association Executives and Business Members alike.”
Putting it all together
When boiled down, our four interviewees all agree on five key tips for maximizing the value of your CSAE membership:
- Attend as many CSAE events as you can, both big and small, and be fully engaged with the other delegates while you’re there
- Dare to be different and distinguish yourself and your business in creative ways
- Think longer-term and nurture your relationships over the years
- Volunteer on CSAE committees
- Use the CSAE as a safe space to really understand the specific needs and wants of your association clients
By implementing these five tips you’ll be well on your way to creating lasting and meaningful relationships with your Association Executive peers!