(revised April, 2007)
What is the AALL Chapter VIP Program?Visibility in your community (city, state, or region)...connections with your colleagues in related fields...if these are things your chapter has been seeking or could use, then the AALL Chapter VIP program can help move you in the right direction. The AALL Chapter VIP Program presents an opportunity for your chapter to invite special guests from your area's legal, governmental, or information communities to receive a complimentary full registration to AALL's Annual Meeting. In order to emphasize and publicize AALL's preeminent role in legal information management to the community at large, individuals selected to participate in the Annual Meeting's educational and networking experiences shall not be AALL members.
How does the VIP Program benefit our chapter?The VIP program can benefit your chapter in a variety of ways. It is a good means of building a strong relationship with someone important to your chapter. By exposing them to the wide variety of issues law librarians face daily, you will increase their understanding of our challenges. By exposing them to the professionalism of the group, you will increase your stature in their eyes. By spending social time with them, you will establish more of a personal relationship. The visit will result in more meaningful discussions about law library issues. It can even be used as the starting place for a specific project. Finally, the visit can be used to generate positive press coverage. All of these are good reasons to participate in the Chapter VIP Program. You can feel confident that if you get your chosen VIP to the meeting, they will be impressed and rewarded by what they experience. Invariably, visitors to the AALL Annual Meetings have commented enthusiastically about the interesting people they have met, the high quality of our programs and social events, and the efficiency and organization of the entire operation.
How can we identify potential candidates?The VIP Program allows your chapter to establish new relationships or augment existing ones with members of your local legal and information communities. The individual(s) chosen should be influential within your area's legal, governmental or information community. You should consider persons with whom a relationship would provide long term benefits, either in the form of cooperative projects or even press coverage. Among the individuals that your chapter might consider as potential VIP candidates are:
- President of your local or state bar association or the chair of bar's technology committee
- Chief administrators for your local or state courts
- President of local, state, or regional chapter
- Dean or faculty members from your local or regional library school
- Dean or faculty members from your local or regional law school
- Judges of any local, state, or federal courts within your region
- Presidents/chairs or members of local law library boards of trustees
- Individual who has responsibility for local or state government web site development
- Editor or reporter for a local, state, or regional legal newspaper
- Your state librarian
- A state representative, senator, or other official who has been active in library or technology issues
How much will this cost our chapter?The chapter must decide whether it will offer to provide any sort of financial support for transportation and hotel, or whether it will try to work out an arrangement with the VIP to have his or her own firm, association, or institution pay all or part of those expenses. To help you estimate your chapter's share of the expenses for VIP guests, consider the following sample budget. Remember that your invitees may offer to pay for some of their own costs. You may want to offer them a certain reasonable expense allowance and let them handle the rest. Individual chapters may decide to invite only one guest, to keep costs down. SAMPLE VIP GUEST BUDGET (based on averages)
- 2 nights lodging in conference hotel $380
- round trip airfare to/from annual meeting $350
- 2 meals (not covered by full registration) $40
- ground transportation to/from airports $75
How do I present the VIP Program to my board and members?Be positive. Understand the program yourself so you can answer questions and address concerns. Emphasize that this is an opportunity, not a requirement. Provide examples of benefits for your chapter that can result from participating in the program. Encourage creative thinking about names of appropriate invitees and about related activities that could be arranged with them both before and after the AALL Annual Meeting. Be organized and prepare a calendar to show your board an outline of the process (Appendix A).
How do we invite the VIP to the Annual Meeting?Because potential invitees have many interests competing for their time, you will need to "sell" the AALL meeting to them as an experience that will benefit both them personally and their institution, constituency, or professional group. In other words, you tell them what they will get out of spending two or three days at our Annual Meeting with 2,000 law librarians and other invited guests. If one of your chapter members knows your chosen invitee personally, that is the ideal person to make the initial contact. Many people within the legal and information communities are familiar with AALL and its activities, so you probably will not have to tell them everything about our purpose and activities. A brief memo illustrating local and national activities may be helpful. Of course, a friendly phone call or face to face conversation is even better. If you have chosen someone whom your chapter members do not know personally, but whom you want because of their important position or reputation, then simply tell them that. Most people are flattered to be singled out and may even feel obliged to represent their group or institution when asked to participate in something of national significance. Do a little research on your VIP to find out what his or her special interests and accomplishments are. That will enable you to emphasize how those matters tie in with topics to be discussed at the meeting. Now your chosen VIP has been alerted to expect an invitation. In your next correspondence you should identify the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW. Your actual letter needs to be direct and to the point, but in addition to the basic logistics, it must explain exactly why the person is being invited, what benefit he or she will gain from attending the meeting, and what will happen afterwards to maintain and strengthen the value of the relationship with your chapter. A letter explaining the theme of the Annual Meeting and giving examples of programs, speakers, and opportunities for informal discussion may accompany your invitation. A sample invitation is included in this manual (Appendix B). It's good to follow up with a phone call to make sure that your letter has reached your target and been read. In fact, tell your prospective VIP in the letter that you will be calling within the week after it arrives in order to provide any additional information needed and to answer questions. That way your VIP is much more likely to be prepared to talk to you. If you find that your letter hasn't been read, you can set up an appointment for another follow-up call. Before you make your phone call, be sure that you know as much as possible about the Annual Meeting, and be able to personalize the experience to fit the characteristics of your VIP. Say a bit about how much you always gain from attending the programs and from meeting impressive colleagues. Talk about how important it is for the wider legal community to understand the issues presented by the electronic information revolution, the need to implement new technologies, and the drastic changes in both commercial and government publishing. If your chapter supported a "delegate" to a previous annual meeting and that person and your chapter had a good experience, tell about that. Emphasize that the Annual Meeting will feature opportunities for participating in informal discussions about interesting program topics.
After the candidate says "Yes"Assure your VIPs that both your chapter and AALL's meeting planners will keep them informed about everything they need to know to receive the maximum value and enjoyment from their experience before, during, and after the Annual Meeting. Once your candidate has agreed, you should maintain an active connection with him or her before the Annual Meeting. These activities can lay the groundwork for collaborative efforts which can continue after the meeting. Among the activities you might consider are the following:
- Touch base with the VIP monthly, more frequently as the meeting date approaches;
- Provide the VIP(s) with information on the activities of your chapter (copies of the chapter newsletter, of chapter brochures or reports);
- Provide the VIP(s) with information on the activities of AALL (e.g. copies of AALL Spectrum);
- Add the VIP(s) to your chapter newsletter mailing list;
- Invite your VIP(s) to a chapter meeting (if feasible);
- Schedule the VIP as a speaker at a chapter meeting;
- Appoint a committee to brainstorm with the VIPs about potential collaborative efforts.
Will the VIPs need an escort throughout the Annual Meeting?This will be determined by your VIP guest. Some guests may know many AALL members and wish to be on their own. However, you should assume that in most cases, the VIPs will want an escort to introduce them to other VIPs and AALL members. At a chapter meeting, post the schedule and ask your members to volunteer as escorts. This is an excellent opportunity for the members to have one-on-one time with your VIPs. Try to include newer law librarians as well as the more experienced. This should benefit everyone in the chapter, not just those that are already familiar with AALL leaders. Promote your VIPs' names and biographies to your membership. The chapter members attending the Annual Meeting should be able to identify your VIPs and introduce themselves if the VIP appears lonely or isolated.
Should the chapter send a thank-you note after the Annual Meeting?Thank-you notes are always a pleasant way to end a social activity. The note gives you, the chapter, the opportunity to close the event with a thoughtful gesture. Thank-you notes can be written on simple cards. The card does not need to be engraved or illustrated but should always be handwritten. A few kind words expressing gratitude and wishes for a continued relationship are all that is required. Two examples are available in Appendix C. If you wish to follow up with an invitation to a chapter event or activity, do so separately.
How can we maintain this relationship after the Annual Meeting?The conference is over, you've cleaned out your bags and reviewed all the literature you picked up. You've sent your VIPs a thank-you note and are beginning to wonder how to continue the relationship you built during the meeting. Your chapter will surely benefit if you can keep the momentum going. Various follow-up ideas are listed below, but do not limit yourselves to them. Be creative. Do whatever will work best for your chapter, but gear your activities to the expertise of your guest. What benefits a judge will be different from what benefits a court administrator or journalist. Ask yourself what will help them in their job? If you can provide assistance, do so! Coordinate these activities with those you schedule prior to the Annual Meeting and avoid duplication or redundancies.
- Send a free subscription to your chapter newsletter.
- Provide free membership in your chapter.
- Invite the VIP to speak to your chapter about the Annual Meeting.
- Invite the VIP to write an article for your newsletter.
- Suggest that the VIP write an article about his or her experience for the newsletter or journal of his or her professional organization.
- Invite the VIP to bring some interested colleagues to a chapter activity.
- Invite the VIP to lecture at a legal research class the chapter sponsors.
- Invite the VIP to speak to your chapter about their area of expertise.
- Invite the VIP to an activity at your local library school.
- Schedule a meeting with your VIP and some of the local library directors or managers.
- Involve the VIP in National Library Week.