#ASAE11 – Tips for First Timers

#ASAE11kicks off in just over a month (damn! already? where is the summer going…?), and I saw a recent tweet asking for tips for first-timers, so I thought I’d share some of mine:

  • Follow the back channel (#ASAE11) – it really will help you keep up on what’s going on, both the published stuff and the unpublished/spontaneous stuff.
  • Don’t overschedule yourself – there’s a lot going on. You are going to miss some stuff. Make peace with that in advance.
  • Do your prep work – check out the preliminary program before you arrive (on the plane is OK) and set a draft game plan for week
  • Have a second option – you might find yourself in a session that’s not that great. Make sure you’ve already thought about what else you might want to do so you don’t feel stuck.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach people – it’s really hard to come to one of these things for the first time alone. You literally feel like the only person with no friends. But (a) I guarantee there are others in the same situation who would appreciate some outreach and (b) we’re association people. We are professional networkers who generally speaking like other people. It’s totally cool to walk up to a group you don’t know and join their conversation. Nervous? Look for me – that’s why my photo’s attached to this post.
  • Have a good time, but not TOO good a time – nothing sucks harder than a hangover at a conference. I know from experience, and it’s a mistake we all make, but hopefully we only make it once.
  • Feel free to tag along – there are a lot of events you might not have been invited to, just because people don’t know you yet. I’m specifically thinking of the vendor events on Sunday night. It is totally OK to tag along with a group you just met that’s going to XX or YY vendor’s party. They WANT to meet you and they WANT you to have a good time.

11 thoughts on “#ASAE11 – Tips for First Timers”

  • Great tips, thanks for sharing! Along the lines of approaching people…try to sit at a table where you don't know someone. I don't like starting a new table or row in a session, so jump right in and introduce yourself to someone new at each event!

  • Great tips Elizabeth. Here are some based on my experience.
    1. Take the opportunity to learn about aspects of the association community you may not be familiar with. I'm in government relations, but I attend sessions on other association functions as well.
    2. Bring a ton of business cards. You will go through them.
    3. Get some rest. ASAE is nonstop from Saturday night until Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning).
    4. Contribute to the discussion for #ASAE11. If you're in an interesting session, let others know about it.
    5. Make friends with ASAE DELP scholars. We're a great group of association professionals and love meeting new people!

  • Thanks for creating this list of tips for first-timers. I'm active in my local chapter (KCSAE) but this will be my first ASAE meeting. Since I'm a newbie, sitting at a table where I don't know someone shouldn't be a problem. Thanks for all the great advice!

  • Good stuff Elizabeth … especially the part about having a 2nd choice for each session … I always call that “voting with our feet.”


    Perhaps we can get a list like this for 1st time STL visitors! For example, do NOT miss the chance to “do” the Arch … but there is more to STL than the Arch. Watch for some other ideas.


  • Here's a tip: Seeking an artistic, relaxing respite during ASAE?Citygarden, located along Market Street between 8th and 9th streets, blends lush plantings and twenty-four pieces of internationally renowned sculpture with the delights of water, stone, architecture and design. It is always open and always free.

    Want to know more?

  • Good list! I'll add:

    1) go to Tweetups! It's an easy way to meet people in a smaller setting that you already know something about.

    2) go to the engagement lounge – again, smaller group of people to meet in a lower-committment way.

    3) go to a “continuing the conversation” session, it's a guaranteed roomful of people that are passionate about the same stuff you are

    4) ditch your co-workers. Fellow co-workers are a crutch for a first timer, and while they're great, you won't get as much from them as you would talking to someone else from another association that does your job.

  • STL offers many hot spots. City Museum is one of them! Developed by a team of wildly creative designers and artists, this attractions stretches the definition of “museum” to new and exhilarating dimensions.

    Three floors of eclectic experiences include a multi-level enchanted forest, giant aquarium, museum of salvaged architectural ornaments, glass blowers, weavers, painters and potters in action, a circus, museum oddities and much more. This is not just for kids!

  • STL is made up of distinctive neighborhoods which provide visitors unique experiences. Visit this link to plot your course during ASAE11http://explorestlouis.com/visit-explore/discover/neighborhoods/

  • This is a fantastic list. Here is something I learned last year–Don't get offended if old friends aren't able to spend as much time with you as they, or you, would like. #ASAE11 is a great place to meet new people as well as connect with people you already know. Unfortunately there is only so many hours in a day and I know I have trouble doing as much of both as I like. I trust my old friends to understand that I still love them and if we don't get together at #ASAE11 I will make an effort to do so back on the home front.

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