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Extending your meeting’s impact: Connecting outside your industry

August 26, 2012

Image from Bigstockphoto.com by CoraMax

A couple of months ago, I started following the tweets from the Aspen Environmental Forum. This event was presented in partnership by the Aspen Institute and National Geographic and took place on June 22-25 in Aspen, CO. The event had an extraordinary line-up of scientific and environmental speakers. I was mesmerized by the content – and the event quickly rose to the top of my list of events to attend next year. At one point, a tweet (that I have since lost track of), came out that said that what was needed was to get the messages from the event outside of the scientific community. This is an example of something I’ve heard in many industries and in many events: there is a need to communicate outside our inner circles, and something many industries and events struggle with.

Why do we need to communicate outside of our own group? Because in many cases, the goals that we seek to achieve can only be met by engaging stakeholders outside of our community.

Too often, industries seem to get stuck “talking amongst themselves” and we need to break away from this. I’ve worked with programs in many different industries throughout my career, and without exception, all would benefit from engaging with stakeholders outside their community. In the meetings industry, we could benefit from educating government, corporate and association leaders about the value of meetings. In the sustainability sector, we could benefit from educating mainstream organizations and consumers about the impact of the decisions that are being made. We can only do this though if we’re able to connect with outside groups and individuals. The question becomes: How do we accomplish this?

Recommendations for connecting outside your industry:

  1. Keep your messages jargon and acronym free. This can be tough if you’re using tools like twitter with character limits, but it can make a big difference in keeping the attention of outsiders.
  2. Use examples that non-experts can relate to and visualize.
  3. Invite active bloggers from outside your industry to participate in your program.
  4. Use tools like Storify to capture tweets from your meeting that are relevant to “outsiders”. Add links for additional information and reports that support the tweets.
  5. Develop relationships with potential “ambassadors” for your industry. These will be preferably outsiders who are knowledgeable about your industry’s value, and who can provide first-hand accounts of the value that your industry provides.

I hope you’ll  join me on Monday, August 27th at 3pm EST for a tweetchat on this topic using the #eventtable hashtag to discuss this further.

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