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What events work best for associations


The best events for association are those that align with their mission, engage their members and provide real value in terms of education, networking and professional development.  Regularly soliciting feedback from members can help associations tailor their event offering to meet their needs and preferences




Many trade associations have an annual conference and that’s often the main gathering for the members to meet each other, get involved in workshops, listen to seminars, and panel discussions. Members want to be kept upto date with industry trends and enjoy networking with each other and meet suppliers where relevant. Some of these conferences maybe overseas and last for more than a day.



Some associations own trade shows and this is their main income stream. For example Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is owned by GSMA, PPAI Expo in the promotional products industry is owned by PPAI


Workshops and seminars

These events are often subject matter sessions and can be everything from regulatory events to personal development lead events. Often these will also be available to non-members but at a premium price


Roundtable dinners or meetings

These roundtable discussions have been seen to be a very effective way to being together industry thought leaders either at an online event or more often at an industry dinner. The BPMA British Promotional Merchandise Association regularly did this with the industry patrons at a dinner at the House of Commons


Online webinars

During the Pandemic some associations had record registrations to their online webinars. The Association of Estate Agents had over 20,000 to one such webinar. It's an effective way to share important information that affects the wider industry


New member events

New member orientation events are a great way to connect new members together and make sure they understand all the benefits of the organisation


Networking and social events

A key reason why people join associations is they want to engage with their peers or those companies within the industry.  Increasingly associations will use social events to bring people together and these may be speed networking, wine tastings or dinners, Christmas parties or just member gatherings. Some of these may be regional or special interest events


Award Ceremonies

This is often a great way to reward members and to extend further within the industry. Often a great money spinner for the association it also helps retain interest and value for the membership


AGMs (Annual General Meeting)

Every year most trade associations need to swear in their new Board Directors or Trustees. An AGM is a good why to share with members the last years performance and the vision for the forthcoming year.


About the author

Gordon Glenister is a membership consultant, former CEO of a trade association and the founder of Membership World. Gordon also is the host of the Membership World podcast and an author of influencer marketing strategy


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