It is the final day of 2016. As I sit at my desk to write this post, I feel good about the end of 2016 events and take time to unwind. As I do so, I also reflect about the hard work put forth and success attained throughout the past year through both personal and business efforts. I am not one who writes goals down on paper or creates some type of vision board; however, I do motivate myself to do better in the coming year and seek to surpass the numbers of the past year in all areas not just the financials. I must admit that this does not just take place once a year, but as I learn and apply new information, motivation may occur monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and even minute-to-minute.

Although I have been in business since 1998, it was not until 2013 that I began to focus my efforts on more networking and better quality relationships within our industry. Our industry requires us to be social creatures. For the most part, our roles require us to be personable and there is a need to be willing to connect and communicate with others both inside and outside our environment. I have done this in the past, but the depth or width of contacts and quality of such relationships was truly minimal. I’m not saying I had poor relationships within our industry, but I do admit they were lacking something and felt misunderstood. I also felt that a revival would not just invigorate my spirit, but the totality of the interactions that occur in the environment that surrounds me if only they knew me better.

In a recent ILEA message for the Chapter Board of Directors, Evan Carbotti posted a question that asked, “Who are we?” Note that this was an email message that entered my inbox back on November 30, 2016. I read it back then and it simmered in the back of my mind for the past month. I knew that I would include it in my post for December but was not sure how. Carbotti’s asks the thread viewers, “…what drives you? What motivates you, sparks imagination, engages you, and creates enthusiasm? Why is what we do important? What are our lasting legacies as event professionals? What do we do to stay sane, relevant, motivated, encouraged?” I agree with his statement “positive aspects of this industry have always overwhelmingly outweighed the negative ones.” I also agree with him that, “We are an “always moving forward” type of community.” Very eloquently he says, “We are a community of like-minds and shared values. A community of vision—one collective imagination that constantly drives us all forward. No looking back, only forward towards new enriching and creative opportunity.”

Carbotti argues and I agree that, we are often mislabeled and misrepresented for what we do. This occurred at my event last night and it can be frustrating and hurtful. Those on the outside looking-in do not get us, understand our industry, trade, the role we play nor appreciate the skill(s) acquired and required to do our job. I would also argue that some who are on the inside do the same to industry peers and colleagues. Another colleague posted her feelings about the same issue on a social media page last night. Our roles are different, yet the issue was the same. I agree with Carbotti that we are too often misunderstood and labeled. His suggestion to openly express and discuss our purpose can lead to a higher quality and caliber of relationships i.e. networking and communication between us all plus—positively drive our industry forward. I agree with Carbotti that, “we share a distinct passion that aims at elevating not just our industry, but the world around us. That is one of the core goals of ILEA.

I always try to incorporate some kind of learning in my blog post and not just rant about what I feel is correct. I came across mindtools.com and their article, “Making Work Enjoyable and Productive”. I would suggest you to read it. Generally, I not only link to the site, but I like to incorporate some tidbits. They have legal requirements posted and I was on a time crunch. I will mention the site so you can reference their content that is appropriate to this topic and good for many situations.

Building good relationships is one key to success. Since 2013, I have cut back on my advertising and invested more into networking opportunities. I added another level just last week. There is no misunderstanding with this simple fact. My industry relationships have strengthened, new friendships have developed and my business has grown and expanded positively in the past three years because of connecting and communicating with others in our industry. It has taken time, effort and work. Participating, being present and active is part of the process to achieve success.

Come, validate the importance of you in 2017, and share your story with other like-minded and creative creatures just like you. We have a community that can not only help answer the questions proposed by Carbotti, but also can achieve discussions and solutions. Make plans, join our next meeting or mixer, and see what ILEA can do for you. #myilea #ileasa