One of my first jobs with an association was back in 1994 where I organised a study tour into China for a group of members seeking to do business in the region.
When I mentioned this to someone recently it gave me a bit of a shock when I realised that was 24 years ago! Particularly as I still feel 21 on the inside! Things have changed so much (not just in the association sector) since then.
Below are 4 that immediately spring to mind. Can you think of any? Feel free to add your own via my LinkedIn post.
- Faxes aren’t cool anymore. In fact, a lot of organisations don’t even have a fax number now. I used to love to hear the ring and then garbled beeps as a fax came in. Would it be a membership application? … an event registration?… nope … a random advertisement. And don’t get me started on how quickly that thermal fax paper faded! RIP faxes. You were awesome while you lasted.
- Websites are expected, not special. I remember pitching the idea of a website at an association I worked in and getting a series of responses that included “It’s a short term fad”, “it’s a waste of money as members will never use it”, and “if everyone else jumped off a cliff would you?” (no, but if everyone else jumped into a giant pile of money I would). Today, people expect that any company has a website.
- Being “kept up-to-date” really means it. In the first association I worked in, we proudly told our members that we kept them up-to-date. What that meant was a magazine every quarter, a wages update letter once a year, and the odd bulk fax to members when there was something really juicy afoot. Today, if the news happened yesterday no one wants to know. The pressure is on to ensure members get the right information in a timely manner … and in a way that they actually read the info (rather than get it, not read it, and complain that no one told them about it).
- Smelling the photocopies. When we used to remove a copy from the ditto copier with its bluish purple print you could smell the aroma of the freshly printed page (an aroma enjoyed by generations of school students and later found to be toxic). I can still remember it clearly. No double sided printing in those day. Today’s photocopiers just make life way too easy.