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Training Officer Tip Archive

February 3, 2005 - How to Boost Attendance in Open Enrollment Trainings

The debate about how to fill up open enrollment training session will continue to rage as long as this kind of training exists. Why? Because there is no magic formula for ensuring full capacity or even mediocre attendance. Due to factors such as lack of need/interest, lack of management buy-in, and lack of awareness on the part of potential attendees, most organizations will have to work very hard to run every open enrollment training they place on their schedules.

We have a suggestion that might boost attendance in these programs: Get satisfied participants to refer you to their friends and colleagues. Then, invite them to the next session with the referrers' endorsement.

Is it complicated? Not really. Does it take planning? Some. But we all know training officers often plan a year in advance, so you'll have no problem making this work.

At the beginning of a training session, during introductions, tell the participants that you will be asking them for colleague referrals at the end of the session. Be specific and tell them you'd like three names of colleagues whom you can contact, using that participant's name as a referral. Have an easy-to-use form ready for them to fill out.

At the end of a training session when the instructor is passing out evaluations, ask them once again to rack their brains for colleagues who would like and would benefit from the training they just received. Then, pass around the forms and ask them to complete the forms for you. Collect the forms, bring them back to your office, and design a plan for contacting each of the individuals indicated on the forms. When you contact them, don't forget to tell them who referred you. This personal endorsement will help you gain their support.

This method is very effective, but it is not foolproof. Why? Because you need to run a class at least once before you can get the referrals. So, for new offerings, you might have to be creative to ensure a high turnout. Once you get that turnout, give this new method a try and watch the turnout for future sessions increase substantially. People want to know something is good before they commit to it; this referral strategy will put their minds at ease.

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