Christy Lamagna is the founder of and Master Strategist at Strategic Meetings & Events. For the last decade her focus has centered around disrupting the meetings industry. She is teaching planners to evolve into meeting strategists, who think with curious minds and learn to create meeting environments that shorten sales cycles and influence attendee behavior. A lifelong learner, intellectual philanthropist and author, Christy taught college-level strategic planning for 10 years which helped inspire her book, “The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals.” Read all of Christy's "Get Strategic" blog posts for CEN here.
Commit, Connect and Collect for Our Future at IMEX
The season is upon us. Yes, fall is approaching, but I’m talking IMEX season. Your mailbox is likely full of invitations to an array of IMEX events. From simple breakfast meetings to VIP dinners there are more networking events available than hours in the day. Even if you attend every event to which you’re invited you’re likely missing some quality opportunities to meet and experience people while at the show.
Since we’ll all be taking the ¼ mile trek (maybe more) to the show floor each day why not use that as an opportunity to meet someone new? Even amidst the mass of humanity that is Las Vegas it’s easy to spot each other. With our lanyards swinging side to side and the look of determination that is inherent in planners we’re a somewhat homogeneous group.
I’ve noticed that we are often so busy focused on where we are going we miss the opportunity to be where we are in that moment; or as Holly Duckworth would advise us, being mindful. Why not make a commitment to speaking to people you don’t know; while in one of the many lines you’ll inevitably stand in, or as you take a seat while you wonder why you wore shoes that put fashion ahead of comfort, or when you’re waiting for a session to start. There are people everywhere and many of them are worth knowing. We just need to make the time to make an opportunity to connect.
We’re naturally drawn to those who are familiar to us. How uplifting is spotting someone you haven’t seen since last year’s IMEX? Faces lit by smiles, squeals of joy and arms being thrown around shoulders are fun to watch and joyful to be part of. Who wouldn’t want to have even more of all that happy wonderfulness?
That’s what meetings are about. Events bring people together. They give us a chance to embrace, laugh and share a common experience. They also give us an opportunity to meet new people. In addition to all the people you are looking forward to seeing, try to meet new ones. We’re all strangers until we meet. Why not leave with a few more people you can be happy to see next year? All it takes is a smile to start the process.
This positive step helps you and the industry. The more united and in synch we are, the stronger we become. If you direct your attention away from the spontaneous eruptions of, “IT’S SOOO GREAT TO SEEEE YOU!”, you’ll see significantly more people who aren’t talking to someone. We tend to have two modes; thrilled to see you, or you’re a stranger so I’m ignoring you. Our industry tends to be fragmented. Planner or supplier, corporate or non-corporate, industry veteran or newcomer. The more distinctions we make the more lines we draw. The more lines we draw the more barriers we self-elect to put between us.
Here’s what I suggest; commit to the number of connections you will create that day. Creating connections means initiating an introduction to someone you don’t know or facilitating one; introducing two people you know to each other. Make sure you’re not just introducing people; meet some new ones yourself. Each time you do this you create a bond, break down a barrier and the industry becomes a little bit stronger.
If we all extend our circles by three or four people each time we meet, events like IMEX will be more than an opportunity to see favorite friends and colleagues. They’d be more like a family reunion. (With the side of the family you like, of course….)
Want to get a head start? Find me @SMEChristy and we’ll meet at IMEX!