Attract New Participants to Meetings

Cicely Enright

Some tips for drawing in new expertise for your standards development work.

The plan was this: invite local engineers and other professionals to a late afternoon workshop and follow with a reception for networking. The goals were these: raise awareness and increase membership in three committees. Over the last few years, C12 on Mortars and Grouts for Unit Masonry, C15 on Manufactured Masonry Units and D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing have collaborated in this way at their committee week meetings. The approach: successful.

That's one way technical committees can engage the local community at meetings, with topics chosen for the group and the location. This outreach has many benefits: new insights and expertise, and potential new members and leaders for your committee; broader awareness of the importance of standards; and practical networking and skill development.

Ian Chin, C15 chairman and a vice president and senior principal for Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., says, "I believe that ASTM should strive for and encourage all committees to have a multidisciplinary membership that will develop balanced standards." Through C15's joint planning group with C12, the two groups work to engage local professionals and attract new members. They focus on inviting architects, engineers and contractors to workshops covering relevant, useful information.

As an incentive, you can let potential visitors know that many organizations recognize attendance at ASTM workshops and meetings for continuing education requirements. (A certificate template is available for you to use.)

Here are some specific tips:

Personal invitations work. Perhaps you or a fellow committee member have colleagues who work in Anaheim or Tampa, where you're heading soon for committee week. Consider inviting them to the meeting. Emphasize that ASTM meetings are free and open to nonmembers.

Review your roster. A roster review will show which of your committee members work near an upcoming meeting or special event. Enlist their help in spreading the word and inviting guests and local organizations.

Highlight new developments. If a new topic or task group will be explored at a meeting, that may be a particularly good time to invite local professionals. (Feel free to use the online invitation text.)

Invite a special speaker. A locally based technical authority or professor could speak at a task group, subcommittee or main committee meeting.

Reach out. Offer to share your committee's expertise through talks at professional organizations or in college engineering classes. You might interest a professor whose research impacts your industry.

Invite students. Students who attend will gain insights about how standards will impact their profession. Remind them that ASTM student membership is free.

Schedule meetings strategically. When your committee meets independently of committee weeks, think about whether meeting in conjunction with an industry trade association could provide synergy. For example, Committees F14 on Fences and F32 on Search and Rescue routinely schedule their meetings to coincide with related groups. Or a company from your industry could help host your meeting, offering its employees the opportunity to attend and/or providing a tour of a laboratory or facility.

Finally, remember that your ASTM staff manager is a valuable resource for your committee's work on engaging the local community.

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