From August 1-4 in Baltimore, I had the privilege of attending the 90th annual VenueConnect conference and trade show. VenueConnect provides the venue industry with the opportunity to come together as a community of professionals and interact on a more personal level. Everyone from venue executives to personnel from all across the public assembly facilities spectrum were welcome.
With sessions entitled “A Tours Triple-Play” and “In a League of Their Own,” it wasn’t hard to notice the obvious baseball undertones at the conference. There was a particular focus on the emerging leaders of our industry, as VenueConnect took this opportunity to announce an inaugural IAVM 30 under 30 class as well as the first UpStart Emerging leaders Experience. Key topics were in line with this focus on the future of the industry with sessions focused on helping young professionals in the industry to identify their skill sets, hone in on their craft and develop their careers.
I found the theme to be quite effective overall and it seemed to carry over well to social media with multiple hashtags trending, including #30under30.
Engagement was at an all-time high for the VenueConnect show. More people attended the networking events and sessions than I experienced last year and seemed more engaged with fellow attendees and speakers, in general.
I believe this is due, in large part, to some interesting tactics on behalf of the organizers. For example, a 4-man golf scramble with allied members partnered with venue professionals was used to enhance interaction through collaborative sessions that required all attendees to participate. The UpStart program connected the top industry execs and young professionals, including round tables that encouraged direct interaction.
Overall, VenueConnect hit home this year. Amongst others, I learned some interesting new strategies for personal branding, networking and selling yourself as an events industry professional. My favorite presenter was Mark Gnatovic, Senior Vice President at SearchWide, an executive staffing firm. Mark had some great things to say about reflecting upon yourself, identifying your personal strengths and perfecting your brand so that opportunities present themselves to you as you pursue career advancement.
This event was very transformational in the sense that I had experiences that changed my perspective and the way I’ll handle myself in business situations going forward. I felt that I left the conference with better visibility of my career goals, how to achieve said goals and how to approach top execs to establish a network that will help my professional development.