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What happened in Columbus?


You know the saying, what happens at conference, stays at conference? Well, not in this case. I can tell you I had a fabulous time, came home utterly exhausted from all the networking, learning, sharing. Remember I told you the conference theme was Innovate, Connect, Inspire? Keep that in mind as you read this update on the NAPO conference in Columbus, Ohio. (And yes, it was noted that OHIO stands for Only Handle It Once)

As I mentioned in last month's newsletter, the very first session of the conference was Ask an Organizer. Just some of the many questions asked were – What do you think about discounting? What are your favourite books or systems? Name some budget tools for the beginner organiser. How do stay motivated when you’ve been in business a while? What about service bartering? So, have I got you think? What will you be asking at AAPO’s conference Ask an Organiser session?

Tim Sanders, the opening keynote, spoke about innovating the way you connect with people to create a great customer service experience. His take-away message was – Most people try to turn their friends into customers. Do the opposite, turn your customers into friends. If we took this message literally in our industry we may well face boundary issues with some of our clients. But the point he makes is a good one. When we come from the place of “What’s in it for them?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” we create loyal customers – raving fans – who will be happy to refer business and sing our praises.

Gina Schrek spoke about Connecting with Today’s Technology. She welcomed us to the future and motivated us to get a bigger share of the future. She calls herself a “Digital Immigration Officer” and pointed out that under 35-year-olds are digital natives, while over 35-year-olds are digital immigrants. Customers have changed, and so should we change the way we communicate with them. It was fascinating stuff and I encourage you to learn more about social media as a means to communicating and connecting with current and potential clients.

Another point of connection was during the NAPO International meeting, where I got to speak with Organisers from Colombia, Canada, Hong Kong, Portugal and the UK. While many of the issues we face as organisers are the same, there were some cultural differences, which highlighted the fact that no matter where you are in the world, or in your business development, it’s important to know who your market is, and therefore you’re wanting to connect with. You may also remember Mayumi, the Japanese PO who attended the last AAPO conference. She sends her best regards to everyone and wants you to know she’s been very busy establishing the PO industry and association in Japan. They’ve already held their first conference.

Monica Wolford delivered the closing keynote to Inspire us with Contagious Confidence. It was a great way to close the conference, to send us out to make a difference in our businesses and in our client’s lives. A couple of key points Monica made were 1. Self-esteem is the belief that you are worth the effort, and 2. We are the average of the 5 people we hang out with most.

Apart from these sessions, there were others which I'll report on in more depth soon. They will be found in the members’ area of the AAPO website.

The IFPOA (International Federation of Professional Organizing Associations) met again in Columbus as well. We learned a great deal, as always, and built on our strong relationships. I also spoke with many of the exhibitors about attending and exhibiting at our conference this year, and had the opportunity to speak to the 700 conference attendees and invite them to visit us in Christchurch.

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