After a full year of waiting and anticipation for event professionals everywhere, just like *snap* that, another incredible edition of PCMA Convening Leaders has come and gone.
This year, thanks to the benefits of their newly adopted hybrid event format, we, along with countless others, were able to attend Convening Leaders virtually despite the last-minute travel restrictions.
After three full days of exploring their virtual platform and attending as many sessions as possible, our Showcarians walked away from the event overflowing with inspiration to make this year our best one yet.
As tradition would have it, we’re sharing our key takeaways from the event with the hopes of passing along a bit of inspiration for the year ahead to you as well.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Focus on building a community
The past two years have brought acutely into focus for us (and many other event professionals) that your community is your organization’s biggest asset, and nurturing it is the best path to maintaining organizational growth and success.
Of course, the online facilitation of communities isn’t new. However, thanks to the dramatic influx of new tools, technologies, and data in recent years, we’ve entered an era where we can take these communities to the next level.
It’s no longer enough for your organization to host an annual event, connect with and support your attendees for the duration of the event dates, and then bid them adieu until the following year. To foster an ongoing community, you need to be providing your members with a multitude of diverse opportunities to engage with your organization throughout the year.
“Once a customer has signed on as a member of your community, most of your time is spent trying to provide them with value.” – Sourabh Kothari, Mastering Year-Round Community Engagement for Customers and Employees
To learn more about developing an effective community building strategy, read Unlocking Your Organization’s Superpowers: Community, content, and continuous connection.
If 2021 was the year of regaining stability, 2022 will be the year of community building.
Embrace the process of lifelong learning
If for no other reason than because it pushed us all to find creative solutions to new challenges, we encourage you to muster up a little gratitude for 2021. Reflect on the new skills you’ve acquired as you’ve adapted to the new reality and applaud yourselves for the resilience, bravery, and dedication learning them required.
For many of you, the need to upskill and reskill was a harsh reality thrust upon you by the pandemic that challenged you to adapt quickly. Several Convening Leaders speakers believe that investing in the process of lifelong learning is critical to your ability to sustain organizational growth and success in the future, and we couldn’t agree more. Think about it this way:
If you had to build a house and someone offered you a toolbox that was infinitely bigger and more diversified than the one you were using, wouldn’t you take it?
The reality is, as we have all now learned, you’ll never be able to predict what’s coming next. That’s why, as stated by former CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, during her Main Stage session, “leaders need to anticipate and respond to shifts in culture” and be ready to understand, adapt to, and adopt the new reality and subsequent trends, technologies, and challenges that come along with those shifts.
Once you start taking time to understand the evolving trends around you and commit yourself to continuing to expand your skillset in tune with them, you’ll be far better equipped to adapt to and overcome whatever the next challenge may be when it arises.
Creative innovation is everything
This is one of the most exciting times in history to be committed to lifelong learning because, in the words of Indra Nooyi, “technology is progressing at a clip that is unprecedented, and it’s changing everything about the world as we know it.”
However, if your goal is to maintain a trajectory of organizational growth long into the future, you need to be just as invested in creatively adapting to and integrating those trends and technologies into your association as you are in learning about them.
We loved the way Daniel Lamare, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, highlighted creativity as a key contributing factor in an organization’s ability to innovate effectively and stay relevant to their audience during his Main Stage session, and we could not agree more.
Lamarre defines creativity as: “your ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or forum.”
Put this way, it’s clear how this skill plays a crucial role in your ability to refine the value your association provides your members in tandem with their ever-changing engagement preferences. If you’re not already, creativity is well worth prioritizing within your organizational culture.
Perform with a purpose
There is one important caveat we ought to mention here.
Fostering a community, committing yourself to lifelong learning, and embracing the notion of creative innovation will have little impact on your organization’s success if the only thing that’s driving you is the bottom line.
Especially at a time of such accelerated innovation, being intentional and transparent about how you’re developing your association is crucial to your ongoing success. Not only is it the key to fostering a trusting community both within and around your organization, but it will also provide everyone involved with the motivation and determination necessary to keep you growing long into the future.
Now, if you’re questioning the impact you’d have if you were to direct your organizational efforts towards a greater purpose, keep this thought in mind:
You don’t need to make the biggest impact in order to have a meaningful impact.
We were deeply inspired by this idea when Mateo Salvatto shared it during the Main Stage Session entitled How Passion, Purpose and Action Can Shape a Better World, and so we hope you will be as well.
The only way is forward
The last but certainly not least of our key takeaways from this year’s PCMA Convening Leaders is that, especially after everything we as a community have overcome in the past two years, there’s no going back to where we came from.
Rather than looking backwards and dreaming of a return to life circa 2019, we urge you to embrace the reality of the current climate and wholeheartedly commit yourself to thrive within it, because as put by Convening Leaders Main Stage host, Holly Ransom:
“Our world is such that we have to move forward. We have to be safe, but we have to move our industry forward.”
Now, of course, this feat does not come without challenges, but surely, you’ve already caught a glimpse of the resilience you possess over the course of the past two years. Embrace that strength and transform it into the motivation you need to grab this new era by the reins and tackle it head-on.
And remember, roadblocks aren’t reasons to give up.
As always, we walked away from Convening Leaders feeling excited, confident, and inspired about what’s to come for this industry. Whether you were able to attend or not, we hope we could share a little bit of that magic with you.