Remember Cliffs Notes, the popular synopses of required reading and classic literature? For some of us, they were a go-to back in high school. They condense a tome like War and Peace into 25-30 pages, giving you the highlights along with a few symbolic references that high school English teachers eat up.
Of course, they were forbidden in most schools and it's almost like the creator of Cliffs Notes knew that and wanted to stir up trouble. Why else would they make the covers an impossible-to-hide shade of yellow?
But most of us have graduated from Cliffs Notes. Today, the myriad of information we have to wade through is much larger than War and Peace. It's published round the clock and fills every day on the calendar. Just think of all those industry blog posts and articles that fill your inbox daily. Have you ever even gotten close to reading them all?
At the end of the year, there's a lot to go through and keep up on for professional development, especially in the association industry. That's why round-up lists are so convenient. They're like the Cliffs Notes of the business world, but not as illicit.
So here goes your summary of the best association articles on the web for 2016. You may have seen a few of these throughout the year, but others are hidden gems. They contain valuable information for association professionals.
Managing and Excelling at Events
This article from Event Manager Blog has a lot of great ideas to help your next event stand out. Many of them are inexpensive and make a statement. Double bonus.
Article #2) 3 Ways to Bring Entertainment to Your Attendees
Tired of the same old event entertainment? The industry experts at Cincinnati USA had some ideas on how you could spice things up.
With violent situations and weather-related emergencies topping the headlines on an almost constant basis, it's important for associations to be prepared when they are responsible for so many lives at their events. This article from Associations Now gives some good ideas of how to start.
Article #4) What's Wrong with Hotel Contracts?
In this blog post, Joan Eisenstodt writes about the details behind hotel contracts and what to look for when planning your event. It's a nice in-depth piece.
Social Media and PR
Our world has been dealing with a lot of tragedy over the past few years and sometimes it's difficult to know the right thing to say and how to mix solidarity with activism. This article from Associations Now gives a few ideas. Business News Daily also had some advice about social media during a tragedy, as did Jay Baer.
Article #6) Does Your Association Have a Millennial Mindset?
This is a great post from Marketing General that highlights the best ways to reach young professionals, such as taking advantage of paid Facebook options. If you want to guarantee being seen by your audience, you need to get people engaged with your page content, sometimes by paying a little for exposure.
Member Engagement and Innovation
This is a meaty PDF written by Shelly Alcorn and Elizabeth Weaver Engel. In it they discuss in-depth research and findings about the skills gap between education and entry-level jobs, as well as what associations can do to bridge it. Check out our articles on the skills gap and how associations can bridge it through job training as well.
Is your staff having trouble grasping the idea of engagement? These ideas from Stratford Managers on how to make member engagement a solid concept instead of a nebulous one could help.
Article #9) Four Myths About Innovation in Associations
This gem by Amanda Kaiser appeared on the WorkXO site. It highlights how myths can teach us important lessons, but may also limit our growth. Another notable article about innovation is Lean Startup Strategy: Take Your Innovation in Smaller Bites by Ernie Smith.
Article #10) Want to Stay Relevant? Learn for a Living
Your members and your industry aren't standing still, which is why you need to learn and adapt over time. This article by Jim Carroll addresses the importance of self-education and professional development throughout your career.
Article #11) Best Benefit Ever: Links on the Chain
This is a good article, but it's inclusion on this list less about a single article than the series that appears on Association Now, written by the forward-thinking Ernie Smith. The series is called "Best Benefit Ever" and it highlights what innovative associations are doing out there from a benefits perspective. Take a look at a few of the series' articles to get new ideas for your association.
Article #12) 19 Steps for Implementing an eLearning Program
Want to do more with eLearning in your association? That's a great idea that could make it easier for many of your members to take advantage of your programs. To get started, here are 19 steps you need to take, from the Canadian Society of Association Executives.
The Association Industry's Best Articles for 2016 Takeaway
Engagement and innovation were buzzwords for a healthy organization this year, but the key to both engagement and innovation lies in your ability to stay current with the issues, trends, and learning available. Follow top blogs and subscribe to the ones you want to read every day or every week. Let that magic be delivered to your email account.
Whatever you do, stay informed. It's a practical way to step outside of your organization to find new ideas and apply best practices to help your association grow.