I have learned much over the years, but I thought I would share my nine biggest lessons, from the big to the small stuff:
- Embrace collaboration with external resources: No matter what organization you are working for, as a company, you cannot do everything. Buyers (members or companies) are looking for one-stop solutions. Align yourself with other experts in the industry to offer the full scope of services they are looking for.
- Take chances: While we all believe our work is important, and we do not want to make an error that can affect our personal or company’s brand, we are not going to move forward without taking chances on new offerings, new services, or new formats of delivering quality to our clients, members or community. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried.
- Learn from your peers: Your internal team can really help you move forward. Involve them in the strategic planning process; don’t just leave it up to the management team. They are your front line staff, and speak to your members more regularly than senior management does. They know what is being said, and how they are currently dealing with it.
- Understand your management style: Everyone manages differently. Working with a team can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Take some time to fully understand the qualities, characteristics and attributes that each person brings to the table, and how to communicate with them. This process will also help you determine what (if anything) may be missing, so you can start to look at filling the gaps.
- Relationships matter! Whether you are building relationships with your members, clients or community, personal relationships go a long way in gaining additional (or, new) business. Check in with them on a regular basis, and talk shop and get to know them as a person.
- Educate yourself: Change is a constant, and no one can ever claim to know everything. So keep learning. Becoming a member of an association, attending educational events, and learning from these sessions has been really key for me to understand what is troubling associations today, and how we can help set them up for future success. Take the time to attend local, regional or national events that will inspire and educate.
- Change is good: Your offers (member benefits or individual services) need to change with the times. People don’t necessarily care about what you put together years ago. Assess what is working, and what is not, and adjust as needed. Reviews should be done annually.
- Take personal time: We all need a break. When I started with Greenfield, I really didn’t want to take holidays. I learned why I needed to. Take time off, rest, relax and re-coup – finding the time can be difficult (to be honest, I planned my 2014 holidays in December 2013, because I knew this year was going to be crazy-busy), but learning to decompress will help ensure that you are at the top of your game.
- Take care of your feet! I learned this the hard way… In this industry, a lot of time is spent on your feet – at a conference, on a tradeshow floor, running from meeting to meeting. You cannot be your best at all times if you are uncomfortable most of the time. Be stylish, but wearing comfortable shoes helps ensure my smile is genuine, and not fake.
Thank you to my mentors, Doreen and Heinz for allowing me to grow with the company. I have learned a lot from both of you, and the rest of the team. Here is to another nine years!