Thursday, May 23, 2013

Collaboration and Progression

When I started Building Blocks Social Media, most of my peers were not interested in learning how to move their professional presence online. However, in the past three years, a lot has changed! In the beginning, I was an evangelist. I could see that our world was becoming more social and that an individual's online presence is how they would be measured in terms of professional value. I wanted to help my peers learn how to use the basic functionality of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. At that time, most people were still at a basic level (even marketers of large corporations). Hence, the reason I named my website: www.BasicSocialMediaTraining.com and my blog Personal Branding for Gen X and Boomers. My goal was to bridge the gap between digital immigrants and digital natives.

The meetings and events industry is where I had spent my entire career up to the point of starting my own business, so I turned down offers to consult for bands, politicians, etc. I knew the theories of social media and figured out how to apply those to meetings and events. Because I love learning, I have spent the past few years attending conferences, webinars and networking events where others speak about how the rest of the world uses social media. I have spent a lot of time making connections to best practices for the people in my community (the meetings and events community). Over this period of time, I have become more comfortable giving presentations myself where I am able to take what I have learned and share it with meetings industry associations.

Before I became an entrepreneur, I had spent time on the hotel side of the industry - first in catering, then in sales and a bit in operations as well. Successfully transitioning to a meeting planner position from the supplier side of the industry is difficult (even though it shouldn't be) but I was lucky that I knew the right person at the right time and place. Because I have experience on both sides of the meetings and events industry, it seemed natural to offer my consulting services to both meeting planners and suppliers. I could take what I had learned about social media and apply it to a small business in our industry just as easily as I could apply it to a large conference.

In my mind, it seemed obvious how I could help people, but when I tried to explain it to someone I was just meeting for the first time, I could tell that I wasn't making a clear value proposition for them. What I am able to offer to clients has progressed as the needs of my audience have changed. Certainly, there are still folks who need basic social media training, however most people have the basics figured out and need help from time to time understanding how new social networks might affect them. I created a retainer type of package late last year to acommodate that need.

There are only a hand-full of people in our industry who specialize in social media for events and I have always been open to collaborating with other businesses. Interactive Meeting Technology hired me as a technical concierge for two of their programs in the past six months so they have already proven to be great partners. A collaboration is now in the works where I can offer the SocialPoint suite of solutions to my clients on the West Coast. Because they complete the technology side of social media for events, it is a natural complement for Building Blocks Social Media.

I am looking forward to this new phase in the progression of my business, which is a mirror on the progression of how meeting planners are using social media to energize and enliven their events. Let me know what questions I can answer for you. I'd love to hear your thoughts.