Industry associations provide a lot of value to their members, but none is more important than how they provide a venue for people to get to know others in their lines of work. The people who are engaged in their trade groups in good times are the best situated to navigate the inevitable downturns in the economy.
It is common for those who are active in their associations to have strong reputations within their companies, with their customers, and among their competitors. While the online world is full of great tools for people to gain "fame", lasting reputations come from shared experiences.
I have been working on a new program for association conferences called"
How to recession-proof your career"
Many finance experts are predicting a pending recession. While nobody can say for sure when it will happen, they are sure of one thing... it is coming. If we get hit again like we did in 2008 there are many people who will get hurt who have barely recovered from the economic disasters of eight and nine years ago.
Thus, we cannot wait to have a plan of what to do if the bottom falls out and the amount of corporate layoffs go through the roof. You have to dig your well before you are thirsty. Too many have no plan of what they will do if their job goes away, and it seems almost nobody wants to talk about it.
That is why this program is so important to be added into conference agendas now. If we are educating people on how to be prepared, we are providing real value. To look the other way and hope there will not be a crash is not fair to anyone.
What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow? Most people, after getting past the shock and anger, create a plan, identify their purpose, and network with key people. But if you wait to do this until the worst case scenario happens, the problem is you have no momentum and are caught up in competition with everyone else who is suddenly unemployed.
To purposefully be prepared means to start behaving today like your life depends on the right goals, the purpose that motivates you to work hard, and your connections to people. The truth is if you do these things and there is no recession, you are likely to get more promotions and other opportunities. However, if a crash does come you will be light years ahead of all the other newly unemployed. By the time they can get it figured out, you will be the one with the new job in hand.
If your association wants a program that will get your members thinking and acting in ways that do not resemble ostriches in the sand, let's have a conversation about how to customize this program for you next association meeting. It is our responsibility in the meetings and association world to help people learn the necessary skills that will help them succeed. The last recession is not so long ago, and the wounds are still fresh. Another economic upheaval could have a worse impact on people.
I promise this program is fun, and forward thinking (it is not gloom and doom). It will also get people talking about your event about how important your organization will be to their future no matter how the stock market is trending.
Have A Great Day
Last week I was asked to comment in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle and on SF Gate about why people attend live conferences.
Events like Dreamforce are more than an agenda of speakers. The best conferences are experiential and have an impact on people. Live events bring people together, and in our digital focused world, people are hungry to engage with other humans in a live setting.
Ten years ago the death of meetings was predicted. Economic pressures around the high cost of travel were coupled with the advancement in streaming video, causing many to think that business gatherings would become less popular. Yet that could not have been farther from the truth. In 2017 there will be more face-to-face events than ever before, and the meetings industry is experiencing record numbers. More hotel and convention space is being planned in almost every major city, and barring another recession, the trends are showing up and to the right.
But why? If we can connect with others through a like, link, share, or follow, what is the purpose of getting together in person?
Because people are still people. We are social creatures and we do our best when we collaborate with others in our communities. While some elements of this can be achieved remotely, there is still something about looking another person in the eyes and sharing experiences.
When I speak at live conferences, or act in the role of master of ceremonies, my content is about connecting. In a world where we have more access to people all around the world, people are more lonely. Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review that we face an epidemic of loneliness. Over 40% of adults in the United States report feeling lonely. This is only getting worse as we retreat deeper into our phones and look up at those around us less often.
Live meetings used to be the place we went to learn cutting edge information about our industries. There were few other ways to gather information and stay relevant. But now all the information we could ever want is available online. There are free and paid resources in every field that will help professionals learn.
However the other reason people have always attended meetings, for the networking opportunities, has become even more critical. Surveys of attendees across verticals shows that people want to make connections when they come to a conference (and yes, learning is still a key draw, too).
It is the responsibility of meeting organizers to provide both. Too often they seek high impact topics and data, but hope the networking will just happen on it's own. Making contacts at a live event, however, has gotten harder over the years because people are commonly looking at phones and tablets. They miss the chance to have conversations and thus go home feeling they missed out on much of the networking.
The more companies and associations embrace their key role in helping their attendees engage, the better experience people will have at the event. The better experience they have, the higher chance they will return the following year. It is a vicious cycle. Conferences like Dreamforce, SXSW, and others that have high repeat attendees are very aware in how the success of the meeting is tied directly to the human experience.
If people attend for "networking opportunities" and we do not provide them with the chance make meaningful connections, than the conference has failed. I spend a lot of time talking with clients about their goals for the experience and the networking. It does not matter if the audience is made up of millennials, introverts, academics, etc... (all reasons sited as to why they do not prioritize the networking on par with the learning). People are people. We spend too much time labeling our audiences and separating them. Instead we need to seek the similarities and build a community.
Live events exist to help people connect.
Have A Great Day
Is a "Speaker" a commodity?
A friend who works at an large association called to ask me something about sourcing "good" speakers. She said that her organization has gotten so good in their "Call for Speakers" that they get amazing proposals, and crappy speakers.
After several years of instituting a strong grading system for ranking submissions, the results of audience satisfaction declined. Since I am a professional speaker, she wanted my opinion.
I have never worked for this association, and probably am not the right fit to keynote their conference or present breakouts for their highly technical niche audience. But I do know one thing: Writing a great proposal and being a talented speaker are not the same thing. Content is not king. While content is very important, they have placed too much emphasis on how well someone can craft a list of audience learning objectives, and moved too far away from caring if the person knows how to deliver a speech.
I rarely get selected to speak if I fill out a "Call for Speakers" form. As a person who attends a lot of conferences, I can tell quickly if those on the planning committee had a policy of "audience first" or "how do we look smart". There is a big difference.
The smartest people are not always the best speakers. That is not suggesting that we should not care about the information and expertise (those are very important). But speaking is an art form. You would not pick someone to paint a portrait of your dying grandmother based on a written essay. There is so many little things that make a great presentation, and the intangible parts have to be given the credit deserved.
When people create a "Call for Speakers" they need to decide what constitutes a speaker. My friend's organization was really conducting a "Call for Good Proposal Writers Who Want To Speak".
If they really care about having better speakers they will need to let it be known that experience and speaking style is important. Some groups have a minimum number of presentations that the speaker has given in the past years as a requirement to apply. Even if people fudge those numbers, this requirement sends a message of what is expected.
A speaker is not a commodity.
What do you think?
Have A Great Day.
Over a decade since we all became engrossed in the online and digital world of social media.
Do you feel like you are better connected? I don't mean by the ease at which you can superficially be connected to many people, but instead, do you feel closer to the people in your life?
Are there more people you consider close friends? Do you have more intimate connections to business colleagues? Are you more fulfilled with your social life? Is there a stronger feeling of camaraderie with clients, co-workers, vendors, etc?
Some will day yes. But many say no. Social media seemed like it was going to enhance our lives (and it has), but are we really experiencing the benefits of stronger connections?
I argue we are not suddenly more engaged with people than we were a decade ago. Maybe it is the same, but it appears for some we are worse off. Yes, we know when strangers ate a burrito for lunch, but while in restaurants I often see people not talking to the people at their table while they stare at their phones.
For ten years people have talked about how social media was made up of amazing tools, and that is true. But I have talked to audiences for the past decade about how to get back to the basics of human engagement. Early on the "social media gurus" mocked my position of not linking to everyone with a pulse as my being old fashion. Now those same "experts" are teaching people how to purge their social media contacts to eliminate those with whom they have no reason to be connected.
One of many things I have taught is the "Coffee, Meal, or Beer Rule". It simply states that you do not need to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook to people you have not had a real conversation with (and by real, I mean approximately 30 minutes or more). Granted, there are exceptions and reasons to link with some people you have not really met, but for the most part strangers just fill your feeds with crap. I argued with "experts" on how you should build up your numbers, only to now see them disrupting their own teachings to veer back to a more realistic approach for connecting online and in-person.
Don't get me wrong, I love social media and have used it as a valuable tool since it arrived on the scene. But do not think it has magic powers, or that giving Facebook $10 to boost your posts will have much of an impact. The key word is "social". If you can use these tools to engage people hand enhance conversations, then do it. But if you think likes, links, shares, and follows have any value by themselves, then you are lost.
I enjoy seeing the "gurus" of ten years ago adopt ideas that are in line with my "Coffee, Meal, or Beer Rule". as a lot of time and money has been wasted in this whole ideas that social media will sell things for the average person. The average person cannot look to a Kardashian business model, as that is simply not how the real world works.
When I began my career as a speaker ten years ago, I was warned that I could not make a living talking about "networking" from a traditional perspective. I was advised to jump on the social bandwagon as it was the "hot topic". Today my long-standing ideas are not only gaining ground, but they are what is working for people in a variety of industries.
We can embrace social media tools while at the same time disrupting the hype. If you want to be more successful and uncover unlimited opportunities, you need a "Choose People - Not Screens" mentality.
All opportunities come from people. There are no real shortcuts.
Have A Great Day
As we enter 4th quarter of 2017 my business numbers make me smile. Having worked as a speaker, facilitator, and master of ceremonies for 8 years, this is the year I want to replicate. I have worked with the most amazing clients, earned a great income, and have grown as a person.
I have always had the potential to get my business working as it is this year, but there have always been something holding me back. My work on "The Paradox of Potential" has oddly been part of the reason that I am accomplishing more this year. Asking so many questions of others about the gap between their potential and results, and seeking for their answers on how to bridge that gap, is leaving me inspired in countless ways.
This year I have operated with more intention. This has had a huge impact and has overlapped with my goal of making ages 50 -75 the best years of my life.
If someone asked me for advice on how to cultivate their own path across the gap, here are the 10 steps:
1. Take ownership of your life 2. Set clear goals 3. Work past the fear 4. Connect with people 5. Be aggressive with gratitude 6. Deliver on all projects 7. Accept that change happens 8. Ask for help and delegate 9. Try new things 10. Believe in yourself In seeking your own potential, you need to find your intention. If you need help, join the Potential Mastermind Group (so some other group) and get around people who are there to assist you in finding your best year ever.
Have A Great Day
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