It’s a question I’ve asked a lot in my role as the General Manager of the M3 User Association. When I ask most M3 users and members around the UK and the Benelux, their immediate reaction is “The M3UA is an Annual Conference”. They’re right. And I think that’s a problem.

Why a problem?

For two reasons. First, because they will have a pre-conceived notion about what the conference is; and secondly, because in my view the M3UA is more about what happens between the conferences than it is about the conferences themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted every time someone recognises who the M3UA are even if they respond that way. What I worry about is that their memory of a past conference, or the reports from others who attended past conferences may not be an accurate reflection of our future conferences. I also worry that if they only think of the conference, they don’t fully understand the value of the M3UA to themselves, their colleagues and their business all year-round.

What that means is that they probably haven’t registered for this years conference or attended any M3UA event for a while. It almost certainly means they aren’t actively participating in their M3UA. And I emphasise that this is their M3UA. The association was formed by M3 Users, for M3 Users. Every member deserves an M3UA that delivers real value and for this to happen they need to actively participate.

So what are the M3UA doing about it?

We’re working to improve the annual conferences and just as importantly, to improve what happens between them.

Our conferences are evolving. They’re bigger and attended by more M3 users and exhibitors than ever before. We’re pretty sure they are the largest annual event held specifically for M3 users in the UK and the Benelux. We have more content and more experts on hand to help M3 customers build plans for their future. In short, they’re not what most people remember.

One significant change for the UK event this year is designed to help encourage active participation by everyone that attends:

We’ve also spent a lot of time this year encouraging more Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to explore more topics we think will be of interest to members. Each SIG has a leader who hosts the meetings and each meeting has a guest presenter. All of this is recorded and made available on our website to those who can’t attend. In the future we see the annual conferences being driven by the SIG’s, they will demand certain topics are covered in presentations, workshops and round-tables. They will present and summarise their own activity at the conference, and use it to encourage and recruit participants and experts for future sessions. The SIGs will form the foundation of M3UA activity as we move forward.

What can you do?

One thing. Participate. The active participation of members is what makes the M3UA worthwhile. Above all else, members declare the opportunity to network with other M3 users as the single, most valuable part of their attendance or involvement in any M3UA event. Our mission is to create the opportunities for members to share knowledge and experience. We’re trying new formats and new forums to help, we’re trying to break down the barriers to participation. More events, more topics, more often. Less formality, less preparation (for you and for our invited experts), less effort required. All you need to do is to participate. What you can also do is to invite your colleagues to participate too, the value of the M3UA to your business will increase exponentially.

We’re also planning to recognise and reward those M3UA members whose active participation adds value for others . I wrote about this before, you can re-read the newsletter article here.

How can you participate? Here are some suggestions, easiest first.

  1. Attend a SIG webinar (check out the calendar here).
  2. Come to the conference (Find out more here).
  3. Join a workshop or round-table at the conference (Book here).
  4. Suggest topic for a SIG meeting (Describe it here).
  5. Share your story at the conference (Get in touch here).
  6. Join the committee (email us here).

Active participation is the key to the M3UA’s future. More members sharing more knowledge and experience with each other. If you share this vision we look forward to seeing you at an M3UA event very soon. Don’t forget to bring your colleagues!

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