I’ve had many discussions, including interviews, zoom calls, and one-on-one conversations with CEOs and executives this week. I’m eager to share what I’ve learned from those interactions. In this video, I’ll cover three topics:

  1. What is taking place right now in terms of the pandemic and its impact on associations
  2. Virtualizing meetings
  3. and the implications for strategy.

The first thing I’ve learned is that the disruption we are currently experiencing will likely last well into 2021 and the impact on the economy beyond that. There are multiple waves taking place, and they are happening without the scientific-based national coordination needed to get our country through this safely. We should expect an extended impact and influence on our association’s members.

The pandemic continues to disrupt our ability to convene in groups, forcing association event planners to reconsider how to provide value to current and prospective members, partners, and potential sponsors. Many organizations are looking at very short windows regarding future meetings and making assumptions that if they can take place, it will be the same type of meetings held in the past. However, the primary constraint to bringing people together is not legality, but about the feeling of safety. Any face-to-face meetings scheduled in the next calendar or fiscal year will be heavily impacted by attendees’ willingness to travel and convene in large groups.

What does all this mean? Associations should plan to experience not only an impact on revenue but on the value that comes from people socializing. We should expect a real push to understand how to create compelling, large, virtual experiences for participants, partners, and sponsors. I’m holding a hackathon next week on this very topic and will document and share what we learn. As part of that hackathon, we will be creating a community of practice, a group of people who want to understand what it takes to create attractive events with enough value to sell sponsorships, and new emerging business models can be shared. This is a free community if you’d like to participate, email me.

Finally, I want to discuss strategy. The type of multi-level, long-lasting disruption we are experiencing requires a dramatically different approach. It is not wise to continue with strategic planning as usual. If you want to be a player in the rebuilding and repairing of the world, associations must shift gears to focus on two components. The first is to be very clear what the association’s overarching purpose is and tie it to something socially beneficial, beyond membership. The second is to be nimble and agile by coupling the over-arching purpose with a 3 to 6-month plan, keeping in more regular contact with your board, executive committee, and leadership team.

For additional resources designed to help you lead through the pandemic check out covidleaders.com