Meetings

Lunchtime Links: Your Conference Isn't as Cool as You Think It Is

By / Dec 12, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

How to distinguish your next conference from the competition. Plus: advancing your career at the office holiday party.

You’ve just finished hosting a successful event or conference. Take some time to enjoy the moment. But before you go patting yourself on the back, ask yourself if your attendees really got everything they came for. How to create a unique conference experience, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links.

Stand out: With the amount of time event planners and others in your organization put in to planning conferences, it’s only natural to think you’ve established the gold standard for your industry. But do your attendees see it that way? Writing for Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections blog, consultant Jeff Hurt says the perception often differs from reality. “Too often conference hosts and organizers have a great disconnect between how much they believe their conference experience is unique and how unique their attendees actually think it is.” Hurt poses three questions to ask when attempting to differentiate your organization’s programs from the competition—including identifying areas where you can “win in the marketplace” and highlighting those to potential attendees. What does your organization do to provide a unique event experience?

Party power: It’s December, and if you haven’t had your office holiday party yet, chances are it’s right around the corner. These events can be a lot of fun—too much fun for some folks (we’ve all seen a few dance moves we’d rather forget). But the annual holiday party is more than just a well-deserved excuse to cut loose with coworkers. In a Lifehacker article cowritten with Syndio Social CEO Zachary Johnson, workplace author Elizabeth Grace Saunders says these gatherings can be a surefire way to advance your career. Rather than just focusing on fun, Saunders suggests you spend time meeting and talking with key people with whom you don’t normally interact. “It’s comfortable to make yourself cozy in the center of a group that already knows you, but that won’t lead to the kind of meaningful connections that can help you get more done in the coming year,” she writes. Do you have plan to advance your career in 2014?

Break the mold: When I say “Xerox,” what’s the first image that pops into your head? If you said copiers, you’re not alone. In much the same way that Q-Tips are synonymous with cotton swabs or Google is with internet search, Xerox became an eponym for copies. While generally a good problem for a brand to have, that kind of instant identification can be troublesome when your organization seeks to diversify. In an article for Fast Company, writer David Zax highlights Xerox’s move from a copier maker to “an enterprise giant whose revenues come nearly as much from services (analytics, consulting, and the like) as from actual technology.” Specifically, Zax profiles the recent efforts of CTO Sophie Vandebroek, head of Xerox’s Innovations Group, whom he credits with infusing a fresh dose of creativity as the company has expanded into spaces like education. “[F]or the average person peering over Vandebroek’s shoulder during the course of a day at Xerox, you might be surprised to see the kind of creativity-fostering that we more commonly associate with small startups or ‘sexier’ tech companies like Google,” writes Zax. So, how did Xerox turn the corner? Zax pinpoints its client “dreaming sessions,” designed to get the company and its clients “to think more creatively about problems and solutions,” among other efforts.

What steps does your organization take to think outside the box? Tell us in the comments.

Corey Murray

Corey Murray is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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