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I’ve been a volunteer with IABC Minnesota since 1995 – the most consistent thing in my life aside from living on the St. Paul side of town. Serving as a volunteer has had numerous benefits to my career and my employers because I seem to learn just the right skills at just the moment they’re needed.

In my role as chair of the CONVERGENCE Summit 2019, I’m exercising my leadership muscles in new and unfamiliar ways. Here are some of the highlights of what I’ve learned …

CONSIDER THE EXPERIENCE YOU WANT TO CREATE

Prior to our first in-person committee meeting, we set and agreed upon our vision, goals and measurable objectives for the Summit. To better connect with our intended audience, we brainstormed using the Think, Feel or Do exercise.

What do we want the attendees to THINK, FEEL or DO after participating in the conference?

From there, we determined the format of the day; we agreed (and last year’s survey confirmed) that plenty of networking is a must. We provided our best ideas for topics and presenters to match the experience we wanted to create, and then we moved into action.

TAKE STEPS, NOT LEAPS

Now in our fourth consecutive year of CONVERGENCE Summit, we’re balancing enthusiasm with practicality, instilling improvements in increments, and hopefully building a memorable experience for this year’s attendees while taking a longer-term view.

Each year, we continue to build onto our previous year’s success. This year, for example, we established a formal sponsorship program. (Our thanks to Neuger Communications Group, Business Wire and Bolger for supporting CONVERGENCE Summit 2019.)

The philosophy to “take steps, not leaps” instilled by former chair Tami Wendt, was also instructive in ensuring that we didn’t take on the financial risk of reserving large rooms while we continue to grow our following.

HIRE PEOPLE SMARTER THAN YOURSELF

Well, it’s a committee, and I didn’t hire them. They volunteered. But it’s still true that each of them is smarter than me in one way or another. I have learned tons from them, including:

Emerging trends in the industry (such as earned brand and ethics) – As a result of our collaborative efforts with the U of M, our sessions have a nice blend of leading-edge academic insights and practical application.

Best practices in event planning – I’ve learned best practices in how food is chosen for various diets, how to keep the day flowing smoothly, and when to reserve hotel accommodations.

Leadership – This is a committee full of leaders, and I’ve had the opportunity to observe how my colleagues build their businesses, run their teams, make decisions about work/life balance, and mentor others in their careers.

I am proud to be associated with this year’s Planning Committee. CONVERGENCE Summit attendees will benefit from your hard work and commitment to our profession!

I also appreciate the IABC Minnesota Board of Directors. Every one of them has supported CONVERGENCE Summit with ideas, refinements, dedication and hustle.

Together, we have accomplished an enormous feat in designing and executing CONVERGENCE Summit 2019. And it’s not just any event … I believe it’s the best-of-its-kind professional development conference for senior-level business communications, marketing and PR professionals.

-Ann
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