A significant part of my job is planning our conferences, and we have four of these a year. Some people might consider me a party planner, but when you work for a network like ours, conference planning is much more than that – the purpose of our conferences is to facilitate relationships, and I need to plan each part of the conference around that goal.
Plus, I need to try to make everyone happy. Guess how often that happens?
Sometimes, facilitating relationships means pushing our delegates past their comfort zones (ie bike riding through rice paddies in Vietnam or sending them to a fish spa in Singapore) because it makes them feel a shared connection that leads to talking, laughing, and forming a relationship.
As I mentioned, we have four conferences a year – the Asia Pacific Meeting, the Annual Meeting, the European Regional Meeting, and the Americas Regional Meeting. As you might guess, anywhere from 2-4 of these are held outside the United States and that presents some interesting challenges, as well as offers some rewarding experiences.
I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned with you, because while these lessons were learned while planning conferences, they can also be applied to business done abroad as well.