By Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, Chief Operating Officer, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)
I was fortunate to have attended last week’s IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum. The forum’s purpose is to help women in identifying their brand, presenting their brand, and living their brand. Authors of Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence, Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins, were the keynote presenters at the forum. They suggest that professionals need to know:
- Who am I?
- Why am I at the table?
- What is my aspiration/best and highest contribution?
Once those questions are answered, a person will be able to identify their brand and the next step is being comfortable sharing their brand (letting others see their authentic self) which then helps them work toward establishing their leadership presence (living their brand). Regardless of what our career goals are, and regardless of gender, each of us needs to be able to articulate and be authentic and true to ourselves in our professional lives. Identifying your personal brand is nothing more than working toward establishing your leadership presence.
What I was especially interested in watching was the year-over-year growth of young professionals in attendance. They were all bright and very engaged in the exhibitions and events industry – the rising stars. Knowing that as an industry, we have a looming problem with workforce development, helping young professionals to identify and be able to articulate their personal brand will only help them and their employers in the long-run.
In the CEIR study, Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century, Identify, Discover and Embrace Change from the Point of View of Young Professionals, Phase 2, the findings correlate the supposition above. Young professionals want to engage and interact at an exhibition, and they look for the engagement and interaction to create an overall experience. Messages that resonate with them in attending an exhibition include networking and career-building opportunities.
Those of us at the executive level need to encourage, and provide, our employees with leadership development opportunities. It makes good business sense and something we should all be doing.