January is the usual time for everyone, including those of us in the events industry, to update our goals for the coming year. But why stop with 2016? In the spirit of the new year, I’ve thought of five resolutions that should apply to you and me every year:
- I Will Make Events Strategic to My Business
In 2014, SAP CEO Bill McDermott published a book, Winners Dream, which hit home for many of us in the industry. Winners Dream is the story of Bill’s journey through the business world. Throughout the book, Bill describes how instrumental events have been in rallying employees around a business vision. To Bill, events are a lot more than feel-good experiences. Events become strategic when they convey an important message, strategy or vision.
Are you elevating events to a strategic level? Are you going beyond event production and inserting yourself into the formulation of the message, the content, and the purpose of an event to support business goals?
- I Will Be an Audience Advocate
Putting the audience at the center of the event experience sounds like an obvious requirement. But we’ve all attended enough boring presentations and encountered more than our share of impersonal event spaces to realize that companies continue to put on events that fail to advocate for their audiences.
Being an audience advocate starts with researching the wants and needs of your audience (not just once but each time you put on an event, especially recurring events) and constructing an experience that exceeds those wants and needs. It’s easy to get into a rut when you produce the same event year after year (“We’re hosting the same employees as we did last year; we know what they want”). Don’t ever assume your audience expects the same thing each year. Do you advocate for your audience?
- I Will Surprise and Delight
Events can surprise and delight audiences like no other experience. In 2008, the NHL created surprise and delight by moving one hockey game a year to an outdoor location. Thus the Winter Classic was born. The seemingly simple act of hosting an NHL game in an outdoor arena has made the Winter Classic an annual multi-city phenomenon. You can inject surprise in delight in many ways, such as bringing in a guest speaker who is not an obvious choice for your industry or by having your event at a fresh venue.
- I Will Be a Student of the Industry
The events industry is in a state of constant change. That cool technology you saw on display a year ago is passé now. You’re not going to have a very prosperous career in events unless you take it upon yourself to stay on top of emerging trends, technologies and issues affecting our world. Don’t wait around for your boss to invite you to brush up on your training. Do your own homework — constantly. We are blessed to have access to a number of resources to learn, and many of them are free. For example, do you bookmark resources such as BizBash? Do you bookmark blog content from players in the industry? And ask your colleagues what they read and watch. For instance, a coworker recently shared with me this article about technologies shaping events in 2016. I’m reading it eagerly, and will be ready to embrace a new set of emerging technologies when these become passé.
- I Will Do Good
Making an impact in our industry requires hard work and commitment — not just to an event, but also to doing good for everyone around you. Doing good is both a personal and corporate commitment. At the corporate level, doing good can mean contributing to your community (we contribute financially and with our time). At a personal level, doing good means (among many other things) acting with integrity and building up your teammates. Doing good is not just a matter of feeling good. Doing good is also good business. Teams with a sense of purpose, and people who build each other up in their actions and words, are more productive because they are more committed to each other’s success, and they are passionate about having a purpose. (Conversely, toxic personalities can be expensive to a business.) Doing good is not always easy, but it’s always the right choice for your career and for those who work with you.
How are you going to make your mark in the events industry in 2016 — and beyond? I’d love to hear from you.
For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org