A Little WEC11 Love

I’m leaving on a jet plane for #WEC11 (World Education Congress) in less than four weeks! Where has the time gone?  When #WEC10 was over, I thought woefully that I have to wait a WHOLE year before the next one.  Somehow the whole year flew by, and now I have to start planning how to fill my precious few days in Orlando.  With only two days left for early registration, I wanted to share eight reasons (in no particular order) why I love attending WEC!

Education & Professional Development
That’s the biggest draw for me, the education that MPI provides during WEC is probably some of the best education and professional development opportunities around, in my humble opinion that is!  This year MPI seems to be stepping it up another notch, with the rallying cry “Get Smarter“; a more hands on, less talk focus.  Attendees will have access to over 100 educational sessions – my mind spins, as I know I won’t have time for them all.

Events & Networking
To name a few… The Big Deal, Rendezvous, Open and Closing Receptions, Offsite Insights, Puppy Cuddling, Chapter Receptions, Golf Tournament, Rise Awards…and the list seems to go on. Sleep is overrated during this conference!

Location
This year WEC will be held in sunny Orlando, FL, probably one of the easiest places for those on the east coast to access and with the prices on plane tickets going up every day – it’s much more cost effective!

Technology
I LOVE Technology. I love checking out all the new shiny toys, tablets, smart phones, applications, tools, etc.  This year MPI has created the HIVE! The HIVE is the new gathering spot, located in the Global Village, for showcasing the latest in event technology. It’s the ultimate show-and-tell stage in which a tech-savvy concierge staff of digital and social media experts shares the latest tech tools and wizardry.

Leadership
Attending WEC gives you that edge; the edge you can take home with you, use as a Chapter Leader on the MPI Board and use within your own company.  It gives you that boost within your career, takes you up a notch as a professional.  I feel more empowered, a stronger leader, a more prepared professional.  I come away with new resources to make my job easier, ideas to help inspire others and feel more confident!

Inspiration
Every time I attend WEC, I leave feeling inspired and rejuvenated. I have new ideas and my creative juices are flowing.  Attending WEC pumps new energy into the meeting professional world!

No More Tradeshow (Now MarketSquare and Blitz!)
I do appreciate the tradeshow, but I don’t love tradeshows, especially not two days worth of wandering somewhat aimlessly around the tradeshow floor.  Nevertheless, there will be time for supplier to market themselves on the MarketSquare and with Blitz!  MarketSquare is a permanent fixture throughout the entire conference, where suppliers can meet with clients, have a representative talk to attendees or simply gain brand exposure. On top of Market Square, there will also be Blitz! This new addition to WEC is set to provide an additional way to give companies the visibility at WEC, with a designated spot for the evening in the progressive reception; no longer a search-and-find adventure for buyers.

Friends
I would be remiss not to mention all the friends you make while attending this conference.  It just amazes me the number of people you meet from all over world, who I now consider not just colleagues, but my friends.  Connections are made and kept; I always look forward to attending so we can meet up again!

Now, why do YOU want to attend #WEC11?

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Face Time

I might be a little over the top when it comes to encouraging the use of social media as a meetings professional.  I love Twitter and LinkedIn for my professional side, and Facebook for my more personal side of life.  I even went so far as to sign up for all kinds of social networking and online communities, many that I don’t use regularly, just so I could ensure no one else gets my username.  (You can check yours too NameChk)

I spend lots of time touting the benefits of social media to my MPI Chapter (Northeastern NY), they all smile at me.  I have to wonder, are they smiling (and maybe laughing a little) because they wish they had more time for social media? Knew more about it? Understood the benefits? Or is it, smile and nod until she stops talking? Perhaps it’s a little of everything.  I think most people WANT to get involved with some type of social media application, but then once they do, not everyone really finds it useful (not to mention the time involved). And that’s OKAY.  I’m not here to tell members they absolutely have to join Twitter or LinkedIn (or any other social community)…but they might want to consider it.  And by joining, that doesn’t mean face to face meetings will go by the way side, or that face to face connections will disappear.  Isn’t that what a Tweet-Up is for?  (they are rolling their eyes at me, I know it)

Check out Liz Utter’s blog Social Intimacy & Social Media: Why Face Time Is Still Key

My favorite lesson from her blog…

Social media is a tool, but does not take the place of face time. Creating events where followers meet and interact is a crucial building block in nurturing and solidifying the status of your relationship with followers. It provides more than just an opportunity to put a face with a name; it is a way for the community to verify that you are who you say you are.

The power of the human touch and engaging people face to face is what makes meeting professionals so strong.  We might love technology to help make our lives easier, but we love to spend quality time with each other as well.  Learning from one another, listening to stories, connecting in real time.

Your sincerity and enthusiasm should carry over into the online community as well.  There’s just no way to hide anymore.  Most of us can spot a fake from a mile away.  Be real in person, be real online.  Otherwise, the online community will pretty much shun you.  And that’s pretty harsh.

I’ll leave you now with points from the Convention Industry Council’s grassroots effort, “Face Time, It Matters”.

FACE TIME. It Matters.” is a grassroots industry campaign theme designed to promote the benefits of meeting face-to-face. The campaign was developed in response to one of the most challenging years ever faced by the meeting, convention and exhibition industries. It was based on the findings of a recent national survey of corporate and association meeting planners, plus in-depth personal interviews with the industry’s leading executives as well as focus groups consisting of corporate and association executives, business travelers and professional meeting planners. According to the research:

  • Face-to-face meetings build trust and relationships;
  • Education and training are more effective in a live setting;
  • Live meetings actually save time and money;
  • Live meetings result in a more effective exchange of ideas;
  • Face-to-face meetings provide the human connection that powers business;
  • Face-to-face meetings create jobs and powers the economy.

After wrapping up this entry, I was reading the MPI PlusPoint blog, and found it interesting to note…

Social Media Helps Well Being…
New survey findings [from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] show that use of social networking sites is growing and that those who use these sites, especially Facebook users, have higher measures of social well-being.

This survey also showed that more people are using social networking sites–the figure is now 47 percent of the entire adult population, compared with 26 percent that was measured in our similar 2008 survey. Among other things, this means the average age of adult social networking site users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010. Over half of all adult social networking site users are now over the age of 35.

Acknowledgment

A man desires praise that he may be reassured, that he may be quit of his doubting of himself; he is indifferent to applause when he is confident of success.
Alec Waugh

It’s that time of year when we go out of our way to show others how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating.  A little thanks and praise can go a long way, no matter what stage of life you’re in, be it child or adult. Never be afraid to recognize the accomplishments of your co-workers and employees!  Do not let another person’s rise make you insecure or resentful.  All too often we forget to thank others.

In my opinion, one of the WORST things you can do as an employer (and even as a co-worker) is NOT praise an employee for their accomplishments and contributions.  Employees who are involved in activities outside the office that develop their own personal and professional relationships are some of the best kinds of employees. If supported internally, they can even be some of the most loyal. They are continuously striving to do better, to enhance their education in order to learn new skill sets to keep them one step ahead of the game.  A benefit to any company!

CHRISTINΔ's photostream

Remember, employees don’t always do those things just so they can leave their jobs; most often it’s so that they will STAY at their jobs – and be viewed as an asset.  What better asset to have than an employee who is ahead of the curve, keeping the company up to speed?  Unfortunately, without support (and I don’t mean a pat on the back for every little thing) you will eventually lose good, loyal employees to someone much more supportive.

As an event professional, I am thankful that my employer supports my volunteer activities.  As a member of MPI and a leadership volunteer on the MPI NENY board, I am able to remain apprised of changes in the events industry, in contact with new and potential suppliers, and keep my education and professional development on track.   In my volunteer world, I continue to serve on the MPI NENY Board of Directors as President-Elect.  I am so honored to work with so many volunteers! I know how hard they all work, both as volunteers and for their own paying jobs every day!  MPI NENY has some great volunteers, who give up so much of their free time to the benefit of the Chapter.  It goes to show how much being a part of MPI NENY means to the people involved.  We love our profession.

Consider the following from “A Touch of Business” (http://www.atouchofbusiness.com/tips/biz/0130-employee-recognition.html)

  • Employee recognition boosts morale and employee performance.
  • Employee recognition should not be considered a reward as much as “employee courtesy and consideration.”
  • Have an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable sharing thoughts and opinions.
  • Create a “family-like” atmosphere and recognize all employees for your appreciation of their hard work.
  • Employee recognition is most effective when giving pats on the back during the day to each employee.
  • Employee recognition adds pride in your business. After all, it is the employees who make your business run. Be the first one to say, “I’ve got the best employees on earth” and watch employee performance improve.

So let’s acknowledge our hard working employees, celebrate dedicated volunteers, and thank loyal clients.  They should be recognized not just at the end of the year but throughout.

Happy Holidays!

Vision, Mission, Value

Vision, Mission & Value: Do you know the difference?  I thought I knew, but many of us are guilty of blurring the three into one and using them interchangeably. During the 2010 MPI Chapter Business Summit, which was held in Dallas, TX in September for the MPI Chapter Leaders, we discussed the differences.  Who knew how drastically different they could really be!

Here’s the run down:

  • Vision: What will we look like in the future?
  • Mission: Why are we here?
  • Value: What solutions are you providing; who do you solve it for; and why is this solution different (or better) than the alternative?  This can become the foundation for your brand!  Why are we the better choice than the competition, what makes us stand out?  What is distinctive about us?


    By Nina Matthews Photography

To bring a little clarity into the room, know that everyone wants to matter.  A value statement can provide meaning to a volunteer (and a member). Belief in a purpose gives volunteers a reason to stick with it, and in turn helps to prevent volunteer burnout!

  • Understand your assets and relevance (strengths)
  • Matter on what matters

It’s Time to Create Your Value Statement!

We are all chock-full of good ideas.  It’s fun to come up with new ideas for our chapter and members.  The problem becomes instituting those ideas, committing to them, and following through.  All the new ideas become moot, if they are not taken seriously, or if there are too many ideas on the table and not enough manpower (or need) to really make those ideas come to life.

What’s next? So you have a list of good ideas and you want to implement them, but are they all necessary and something desired by your membership. Take a moment to think about two things that can improve the direction you take and refocus on membership needs.

  • What do we do first? (What will you start)  Okay, you have a list – but you need to prioritize and choose that one thing that you believe in, that you really want to focus on.  Pick something that matters to your members.
  • What do we stop now? We all love to buy new things, that “ooh shiny” feeling.  It makes you feel good right?  Well, a little retail therapy always helps me, but then I find I have a pile of things and I haven’t replaced the old with the new.  When I buy something new, I need to get rid of something old.  Try to keep things in perspective; the same can be applied to your Chapter/Association.  If you’re going to start something, and really focus on it, you should also pick something to throw out.  What’s NOT working or just isn’t in your power to maintain effectively?

You might be wondering now what have I done, or what has my Chapter has done, with all this information?  Well, we created a value statement! MPI Northeastern New York is the bridge to innovative knowledge and connections.

With that value statement in mind we decided that we need to focus on which forms of communication (social media) work best for us and which of those applications our members are actually using. My chapter is lucky to have so many board members who are tech-savvy and comfortable with the ever-changing online communities that are available.  It has made keeping up with the “Online Jones” pretty easy.  This won’t last forever!  Sooner or later our savvy board members will move on, and while we hope the next generation will be as techie, it is not a guarantee.   The same goes for our members, not everyone is a “techie” or social media guru.

Our plan is to narrow the playing field to the top five social media tools that work best for our members, (MPI NENY Website, Virtual World, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn) with emphasis on the website!  While it’s possible to sign up for every social media outlet available, this does not mean each tool will be used effectively.  Consider your audience! Is your audience listening and engaged; which tools are they using?

Okay, you’re thinking – so you stopped something, reduced the number of social media tools.  But what will you focus on – what will we “start”?   I’m going to quote directly from our President, Doug McPhee, CMP, CMM:

Leadership is about commitment and competence. We are leaders not just volunteers. All the chapters are looking at member growth, engagement and strong educational programs, especially for planners. Succession planning is obviously important for all chapters. How do we engage our members?  ASK them to participate. We know that people become involved and attend things because they are asked. When recruiting for committee positions consider strengths that will enhance the committee.

As the new year approaches and the nominations process begins, we will add Director positions to our Board so that we can divide up responsibilities and take the pressure off the Vice Presidents!   We are a small Board – currently there are only eight of us.  Did you know that 89% of members access MPI through their chapters? (Bruce MacMillan, MPI President & CEO) By adding Directors to the Board, we will more effectively engage our members, provide leadership roles for volunteers, and gain new insight as to what our members need and want from us as a Chapter.

Now I ask you:

  • What what will you start and stop this year?
  • Do you have a value statement?