Having joined Dynamic Benchmarking about 6 months ago, this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo was my first. While I had attended the ASAE Marketing, Membership, & Communications Conference in Washington, DC in May, it didn’t prepare me for the overwhelming size of the Annual Meeting in Toronto. I had a hint of what was to come during the opening party at the Royal Ontario Museum where the entire museum was dedicated to ASAE - wow! My favorite part of the evening was the beautiful outdoor space outfitted with fire pits, marshmallows for s'mores, and musicians playing while we enjoyed an absolutely perfect night under the stars. As I soaked it all in I thought to myself, “This group knows how to put on an event!”
The next morning, I was amazed at the size of the room and the number of chairs, all of which were soon filled to capacity, for the opening address by ASAE CEO John Graham. Mr. Graham spoke of the accomplishments of his team in the last year, his vision for the upcoming year, and the commitment ASAE has made to be inclusive and supportive - an important message in this charged political climate. The theme dovetailed nicely into the opening keynote presentation by Nilofer Merchant, a fellow of the The Martin Prosperity Institute and author of the Power of Onlyness.
In her talk, Nilofer introduced the concept of “onlyness” and what it means to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness in each of us. She emphasized how important it is to be mindful of the many different individuals with whom we interact - each of whom posses unique and special talents and abilities. I couldn’t help but think, as Ms. Merchant encouraged us to recognize how we are special in ourselves as we navigate through our professional and personal lives, how her inspiring words tied in to the initiative our team at Dynamic Benchmarking was introducing at this show, and how the Onlyness of each of our study participants will come together to be the sum of something much greater for the industry.
After the inspiring opening ceremonies, we headed to the expo floor, fully energized and ready to staff our booth for the tsunami of attendees as they spilled into the aisles. For the first few hours we could hardly keep up with the interest in our benchmarking platform and in our New Member Engagement Study which we announced at the show. This first-of-its-kind benchmarking study, developed in conjunction with Kaiser Insights, will help to unearth industry best practices in new member engagement, onboarding, orientation and retention. These are critically important topics for all associations, and I’m thrilled that our team is the one bringing them to light for the industry.
It was interesting to observe the rhythm and flow of the attendees at ASAE Annual Meeting. Some folks were clearly on a mission. They had done their research and were looking to speak with potential partners to help with their challenge or mandate. Others took a more leisurely stroll through the aisles looking at the banners and messaging to see what product or service might help their organization. We met with parties from both camps and, for me personally, it was exciting to see the genuine interest they had in our benchmarking solutions. I especially enjoyed meeting some of our clients including Josh Goldman of The Ohio Society of CPAs and Lisa Andrews of the Metal Powder Industries Federation who we ran into at the Starbucks outside the convention center. It was also great to see genuine interest in our New Member Engagement Study. The excitement about this research initiative helped me understand the meaning of this data to the industry, and how powerful that data is.
My first ASAE Annual Meeting was a fun, educational and inspiring experience. I enjoyed meeting current partners and clients equally as much as I enjoyed educating those who we were meeting for the first time. ASAE was truly enjoyable and very productive. I can’t wait until the next one!