Knowing Your Audience Helps IBS Promote Benefits to Young Professionals

Almost all associations and professional societies seek to increase members (often targeting younger members) as a means to ensure future leadership. While the International Biometric Society (IBS) has student (Master’s and Ph.D. candidate) members, it sought to engage and recruit even more student members. The 2014 International Biometric Conference (IBC) in Florence, Italy, provided a perfect, central location to attract prospective and current student members and involve them in the Conference.

How Did IBS Grow its (Younger) Membership Base?

Specific Programming, Outreach, Geared to Young Professionals
Since the IBC (held every two years), is a venue where young professionals present papers and “get to know” IBS, it was a natural place to start. The IBS Executive Board identified it as a potential venue in a planning session last year. As part of its young professionals outreach plan, IBS dedicated funds for a Young Statisticians Showcase at the Conference. Jennifer Rogers, a young UK statistician, volunteered to lead the effort.

To get things rolling, Rogers created a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ibsyoung.statisticians). And the effort took off from there. Rogers reached out to young members – and non-members — to gauge their interest and arranged them to attend IBC. She reviewed the IBS student membership database, and contacted participants to update them on activities and generate excitement for IBC.

And IBS “front-loaded” the IBC so all programming geared to young professionals was at the start of the IBC, allowing younger participants to get to know each other from the “get go” – and build comradery. Specifically, IBS leadership discussed how to maximize the conference and then everyone participated in “ice breaker” games, led by Rogers, so that all participants from around the world got to know each other.

Increased Collaboration Strengthens Relationships
“Targeted outreach and planning for younger members and prospects combined with a series of events specifically designed really worked like a charm,” said Dee Ann Walker, executive director, IBS. “It helped IBS focus on a component of its original mission – bringing people together and collaborating across countries,” she said. After this initial session, a “standing room only” Young Statistician’s Showcase featured a prize-winning paper by a student from each of the five inhabited continents. IBS awarded each winner a $3000 stipend. IBC is one venue where these young professionals can really “make their mark.” Next, participants attended a reception-style “mixer” with more than 250 people. One of the highlights for these young professionals: the annual awards ceremony and its announcement of the five winners. Sir David Cox, a renowned statistician from Birmingham, England, presented the award certificates and posed for photographs. (See photo below.)

“While Sir David’s presence was a real highlight of the conference, it will be, without a doubt, one of the highlights
of our careers,” said Rogers. “He’s a ‘rock star’ in our profession,” she said. Mid-week, several young, Italian members led a walking tour of Florence – yet another way to build relationships. And plans are underway for IBC 2016 in Victoria, British Columbia when IBS hopes more young professionals will participate and learn first-hand about IBS membership and why it’s important to be involved.

IBC 2014 was a big success and I know IBS will benefit from everyone’s participation for years to come,” said Walker.