3 reasons why a Belgian association professional goes to L.A.

 [This post has been published on the ASAE-blog Acronym ]

I’m really not that keen on flying, especially when it takes more than half a day to reach my destination. And everybody keeps wishing me a nice holiday in L.A. Hello, I’m going on a business trip – no way you get me in an airplane to go visit places and museums and churches in my scarce spare time. Let me sit down just for a moment and try to find out three good reasons why I’m going to an annual meeting of ASAE on the other side of the world.

First of all, I’ve never been to a conference with more than 4000 attendees, a complete program of key-notes, educational sessions, an exposition and all those other events. I even read there is going to be a special act by Cirque du Soleil (that’s Belgian quality by the way). I cannot imagine we have proper infrastructure for that over here in Belgium, unless you rent a football stadium or concerthall maybe. I’m really curious to see how this works.

Secondly, I’ve really been bitten by the association management bug. I’ve been getting into it rather deep for more than a year now, and it is exciting to see and learn how associations, and association professionals in particular, can really help transform society through the power of collaborative action. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? I guess I just have to see for myself that all of this is real. Association management is hardly known to my Belgian colleagues. Recently I received a thankyou e-mail from a new BSAE (Belgian Society of A.E.) member because after 7 years working as an association professional, he now felt he had a job description and title, i.e. association manager. In other words, I hope to be able to take a lot home.

Finally, what I really am excited about, is to find out why so many people undertake so much effort to attend a meeting ‘in the flesh’. One of the major trends I detect in association management is getting things organized using internet technology: virtual meetings, webinars, on line member and knowledge management. Using our time more efficiently, reducing our carbon footprint, this all seems to make so much sense for association professionals. But let me be honest, I already have had the pleasure of experiencing what that is all about.

People are made to meet people. As a little experiment, and challenged by some colleagues (who can stay alone at home), I’ve been trying to connect to some American association professionals using Twitter (@2Mpact), and I’m really surprised how warm and friendly everybody is, willing to share their knowledge and experiences on association management with a perfect stranger. I even got Maddie Grant to talk French to me – now, where’s that airplane?

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