Saturday, June 09, 2012

Association Cliques

Many association have "Power Cliques" who dominate their conventions.  These closed groupings of people who are not open to meeting new people and networking can harm the feelings of how others perceive their attendance experience.  Sometimes the cliques are even promoted by the association itself by creating VIP and board events that are publicized, but not open to everyone. 

It is no fun to have your face up against the glass looking in at all the fun.

While those in cliques usually feel there are no issues, people who are not part of these exclusive inner circles often have negative feelings about the ways the "mini-society" at a conference can leave them feeling like they are traveling second class.

At high school reunions the former "popular crowd" will often revile how their school days had no cliques... meanwhile those who were not at the "cool kids table" have a very different memory.  The same is true at meetings.

I talk many who plan events who are very aware of their "clique problems", but feel they are stuck catering to the power players.  

If you have cliques in your association... do not ignore them, talk about the elephant in the room and make it unacceptable to not be inclusive.  When the culture of the association changes, these closed off groups will either move on or open up.

When I talk about cliques I get a lot of interesting responses.  What do you think?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.


Anonymous said...

you are right that the associations cater to the worst offenders of clicks.

Brian Tannebaum said...

I just got back yesterday from my annual Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers conference. A few years ago we recognized the issue and began putting green stripes on name badges with the words "FIRST TIME ATTENDEE." We were told to make sure we reached out to these attendees.

Cliques are really just a function of what happens when the same people attend and become good friends and want to spend time together catching up on the prior year.

It is the obligation of association leadership to recognize the issue and ask that attention be paid to the newbies.

D bradley kent said...

I agree with Brian. Face to Face events are about relationships, and people who share commonalities. Spending time together, "hooking up at the meeting" are also reasons people come.

Look at the followers of bloggers, twitterati, social media leaders. At our industry events, you will find those same people at tweet ups together, having drinks/dinner together, etc.

Anything in excess is bad, and Thom brings up the need for organizers to connect new with familiar. It enhances the value and long term viability of the experience.

Good post. Thanks for starting the conversation. We have all probably been part of some cliques, and outside others.