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Time to Embrace the Unconventional

By Kate Smith, Director of Membership & Programs

Throughout my professional career, I’ve always enjoyed the unconventional. From theme parks and roller coasters to sharks and the Caribbean, my background has positively shaped my approach to association management. You may wonder, how does lifeguarding or running a theme park apply to membership development? How does tagging sharks (like on TV during Shark Week) apply to event management? It’s not about hard skills, but rather the unique life lessons and people skills that create change and forward movement.

My advice for associations is to embrace all of your members’ backgrounds. Utilize all of their unorthodox strengths and capitalize on them for recruiting and retention. The networking opportunities are immeasurable. At events, unconventional stories not only act as icebreakers for the group, they also inspire listeners to draw on their own personal experiences and buy into your mission. Your organization will gain a new level of interconnectivity and success.

It can be a challenge to embrace the unconventional. But doing so can strengthen your “change muscle” and facilitate change management for the organization. Think about how COVID-19 has forced associations—and the whole world—to function differently, rely on different technologies, and engage new people. Embracing unconventional backgrounds brings undiscovered insight to any situation. If you’re already doing it, then pivoting during a crisis becomes a lot easier.

Fitting unorthodox experiences into the conventional organizational world can be a struggle, and many people find it difficult to sell their skills and life experience as relevant. I’m thankful that, at TMG, we support those with varying backgrounds – celebrating passion and purpose. In my view, any successful organization should embrace the unconventional and attract diverse recruits to enhance its ability to innovate, accelerate growth, and optimize efficiency.