You’re reading this magazine sometime in mid-January. The afterglow of the HARDI conference, while hopefully not gone, is probably losing some of its luster. And the urgency to plan ahead for future HARDI conferences hasn’t struck home yet. You’re wading in that in-between crevice — one side relaxed, the other mulling over the planning mode you will eventually need to ignite.

Without having a single conversation about this month’s column with the HARDI staff, allow me to offer some suggestions about how to get even more out of your HARDI membership than you are.


Tip 1: Instant Replay

Remember how cool it was to download the conference app? You could see who’s there, what they signed up for, and then there are all those notes and reminders of whom to contact and when. I suspect you haven’t thoroughly cleansed that to-do list.

Go back to the app during a lunch time and relive one or two of the PowerPoint presentations. You don’t have to go through every presentation, just the ones that seemed more aligned to your business or topics and speakers who you simply enjoyed. With a book or a presentation, seldom is one time around sufficient to drill down and remember the core of what you hoped to learn. I guarantee that you’ll have an “Oh, Yeah” moment when you revisit the presentation. After all, you already “paid” for it. Why not use it?


Tip 2: The Power of One

There’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed in the publishing world that also seems to apply across the board to other businesses. Opinions, in theory at least, matter. But if you voice an opinion, it suddenly carries so much more weight if no one else makes one or if only a few are proffered.

Editors live with this all the time. ONE person might either praise or criticize some type of coverage and some publisher (not my current one) gets all excited and says: “Yeah, we have to do that.” Or maybe you get two letters praising an approach, and suddenly it’s necessary to turn the ship around and start covering that topic. Two positive or negative opinions in a circulation of a publication that runs into the tens of thousands are not exactly grounded into what numbers people call “statistically significant.” I’ve seen this in the publishing business, but I’ve also seen it appear in some form for almost every organization to which I’ve offered counsel. That’s the power of one (or several).

My point is plain. I’ve heard HARDI CEO Talbot Gee say over and over during his wrap-up comments at the end of a meeting that if you have a view, opinion or suggestion, reach out to him or the staff. My guess is that few, if any at all, follow through. Do you have any idea of the advantage this gives you?

Let’s assume there’s a person who wrote a book that grabbed your attention or you’ve seen someone interviewed on television and thought, “Wow, I’d love to hear that person speak.” You might assume the fee would be too steep for your budget (assuming there is one). Did it ever dawn on you that if you suggested that individual to HARDI, they might book the speaker?  You get the benefit of hearing someone who really interests you, yet you didn’t pay extra because you would have attended the conference anyhow. Naturally, the more accurately, lucidly and enthusiastically you pitch the idea, the more likely, I presume, that HARDI might be receptive to your idea. Tom’s Secret: Ensure that the relevance of the idea works for all members and not just you.

A further tip to promote this idea is to look at the annual conference lineup and four focus forums and suggest someone who fits the category. The national conference is very broad, as you expect. The Focus Forums are very specific. Pitching your idea under the umbrella of a Focus Forum theme is a powerful promotional tool. I can’t promise the HARDI staff will agree, and other factors come into play, including a possible fee, availability and so on. However, you will be on their radar.

Indeed, the strange part about this, I suspect, is that the HARDI staff will appreciate the effort. They work diligently to maintain the best speaking core they can hire or cajole to give presentations to the membership. Make their job easier and gain a friend.


Tip 3: You’re Paying, So Play

The Best Tip of All. I belong to Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey. I virtually never go to a meeting because I’m too busy getting this magazine ready for print or putting out a PR fire for a client. They do contact me occasionally, asking politely, “Where have you been?” After all, I pay a not-insignificant membership fee. I just don’t take advantage of it.

Don’t be me. Whether you’re a longstanding member or a newbie, call HARDI and tell them what your involvement has been up to now. Then say, “I’m a member because …” and reiterate why you joined. Follow up with this important question: What should I do next to get even more benefit from my membership?

You just might find that a lot more resources are available to you and the HARDI doors to options have suddenly opened wider.