Some leadership conferences neglect making special efforts to welcome first time conference delegates. This is a mistake as new blood in an organization is critical to innovation and future success.
Here are some ideas to make sure New Attendees feel Welcome:
- Hold a Welcome Reception for First Time Conference Attendees.
The purpose of this orientation is to informally explain the goals of the group, explain how the events are designed and laid out, help people decide what workshop sessions and guest speakers to attend, and help newcomers to the group get acquainted with others and meet the convention planning committee. Also invite the keynote speaker.
As a twist you could have special initiation games, treasure hunts or challenges( think sorority).
- Create First Time Attendee Badges.
Some delegates like the special designation while others shy away from being singled out as meeting virgins. Having a newcomer badge or ribbon helps break the ice and create conversation and helps other delegates know to take newcomers under their wing and support them. It also tips off trade show vendors that this is a new potential customer who may not be aware of their services.
- Do a Special Invite and Follow Up
An email or phone call from the convention planning committee welcoming newcomers and farouting out any questions or concerns will go far to increase excitement and engagement.
A follow up after the event to discover best practices learned, most insightful guest or keynote speakers, etc will help cement commitment for future years. It's also an opportunity to see if first time delegates want to participate in planning or executing future conferences.
Introverts attending a conference for the first time, seeing no familiar faces could make them extremely nervous and predisposed to fade into the background. Engagement early on is key to ensure they get the best learning experience.