Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Career Development – What Mentoring Can Do For You

Mentoring is often defined as a professional relationship where one person (i.e. – the mentor) helps another person (i.e. the mentee) with professional and personal growth.  They work together to develop specific skills and knowledge that will help enhance the mentees career (within their current role, or preparing for future career paths).

What we have found to-date with the Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of CSAE’s mentor program is that mentors and mentees are learning from each other – while the mentee benefits from the experience and knowledge of their mentor; the mentor in turn is learning from the mentee just as much – in many cases about technology, new, “fresh” ideas for marketing and communications, and how an employee in a junior position at an association perceives an operational structure.

For the purposes of this article, we have interviewed a series of association executives; all who have participated in the local program in years past.  Some have agreed to speak publically about their experience, others preferred to remain anonymous, but all provided feedback that could and should be shared with the chapter.

The interviews were conducted without specific questions in mind; it was a conversation with each individual to hear from them specifically what they felt was beneficial from participating in the program.

“Working in an association with a very small staff set, it was important to me that I found someone who was in a similar situation as I was, who either currently is, or has, ‘lived what I was living’.  We could exchange ideas, operational experiences, and listen to each other’s ideas”, says Robin Jackson, Executive Director of the Canadian Federation of University Women.

“I must admit, I wasn’t sure it was going to work out with my match, and frankly, neither did she”, says Sangita Kamblé, Executive Director of the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation.  “We were too much alike, and frankly, we were not sure how we could benefit from this.  But after meeting with my mentoring partner, we clicked.  It is very much an equal exchange; we share concerns, ideas, etc.”

What are the benefits of mentoring?

There are many…too many to highlight in one article.  But; some benefits include encouraging/enhancing business initiatives; professional development; breaks down the “silo” mentality between generations, industries, and job functions.

One anonymous supported said that “It moves you beyond your typical circle of professional relationships.  With the chapter’s program, the ‘match-making’ is someone else’s responsibility; by using some questions to help determine the pairings (i.e. what you want out of this).  Then they match you up with others who are looking to help with those areas.  I cannot speak to everyone else’s experience, but I was paired with someone outside of my industry.  I was new to my role, and with this program, I got to look at new approaches, which helped me grow in my position, and my organization.”

Mentors benefit by learning other areas of an organization; or an industry, gaining satisfaction in sharing expertise and experience with others, and in turn, having a new perspective that helps with their own professional and personal development.

“Looking back to when I was very new to associations (and to being an Executive Director); I really could have benefitted from a program like this.  I certainly feel that I reasonably invested my time as a mentor”, says Duncan Grant, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Archivists.

Mentees benefit by learning specific skills and knowledge to help them advance their careers; gaining from the mentor’s expertise, and they have someone who will listen when they are frustrated; or wanting to share successes.

“I spent a lot of my time with my mentor focusing on articulating my core competencies and highlighting my unique skills.  It’s not always easy to do this on your own, and the help my mentor provided was fantastic.  I know that I can fall back on her for advice if needed.”, says Geraldine Hyland, Manager, Member Services at the Canadian Library Association.

About the Mentorship Program

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of CSAE conducts assessments during the summer months, and then matches the pairings in September.  From September-May; it is up to the mentor/mentee pairings to set up a schedule to meet, chat, etc.  The Chapter volunteers circle back in January to check in and ensure that everyone is going OK.  Our “official” involvement ends in May; and it is up to the pairings if they want to continue or not.

“My match and I have been at this for over 1.5 years; and it doesn’t show signs of stopping yet”; said Sangita Kamblé.

“I do not run in the same circles as my match.” said Geraldine Hyland. “I doubt we would have come across each other in an in-depth way as we have through this program.”

Another anonymous participant said, “We are still in touch monthly.  It is largely in part of both of us recognizing that you have to put an effort into it to get anything out of it.  We are both interested in keeping it going.”

“Members should really be taking full-advantage of this program – there is a wealth of knowledge available to you as a result – on both sides.”, says Duncan Grant.

Interested in participating in the program?  Contact the Chapter Executive for further details.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Trade Show Management – Concept to Completion

Trade Show Management is an art. To produce a successful show takes strong vision, calculated
planning, organized execution, and countless hours. A Show Manager requires an extremely diverse skill set or a competent and skilled team, as they are working with various stakeholders, components
and a myriad of details.

There are four stages to the process: Planning, Coordinating, Execution and Evaluation.

The Planning phase consists of reviewing the current operations, setting goals and objectives, identifying stakeholders, choosing your team and creating a budget. Understanding who the stakeholders are, how important each group is and how valuable good relationships with all of them are is the key to a smooth running show. Whether it be your exhibitors, attendees, sponsors, suppliers, venue contacts, media, staff and volunteers, each group brings a unique perspective with different needs; many with expertise in their area you can draw from. Utilize their knowledge.

Planning your team is equally important – given the variety of areas implicated in a trade show including administration and finance, sales, communications and marketing, registration and event management you will undoubtedly encounter a wide range of skills and personalities and it is important to utilize their strengths and involve them in all the planning in order for them to buy in to your ideas.

Other components of the planning stage consist of:

  • Budget - including venue, all site expenses, speakers, marketing etc.
  • Regulations – labour, safety, disability, fire code, licensing, insurance, green practices, etc.
  • Logistics – this is one of the largest areas in the planning phase. It encompasses requests for proposals, site selections and floor plans, contracts, venue and service providers, scheduling, features and entertainment, AV, catering and more.

It is important to note that having a well designed, logical floor plan can make or break your show. If it is not well thought out, if exhibitors are not happy with their space/locations, if attendees can’t find features, if there are dead aisles, or if you haven’t followed safety, fire, or electrical regulations, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. I reiterate the value of all stakeholders – it’s important to keep them happy and coming back. A word of advice – keep the inspectors happy – it makes your life a lot easier.

Sales and marketing are another big part of the planning process. The first step should be to complete a Situation Analysis or a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and from those responses look at market segmentation, ways to prospect and lead generation. Your marketing plan needs to be integrated, utilizing advertising, public relations, website, social and digital media. A marketing timeline should be created a year in advance and the different medians used depending on what stage of the plan you are in.

Creating a complete exhibitor prospectus which has all the pertinent information regarding the details of your show and the value of exhibiting is a must. Ensure everything the exhibitor needs to know is included: attendee demographics, logistics, floor plans and costs, conditions of contract, accommodations and travel tips, sponsorship opportunities and tips for exhibiting. The exhibitor guide should be equally as detailed with relevant information on setup, tear down, contractors, shipping, electrical, AV, security, material handling, storage, etc. The easier you make things for the exhibitors, the happier they are and more likely to return the next year.

The world of sponsorship has changed immensely. It is growing hugely and allows for much creativity. It is no longer signage and exposure; sponsors desire to be interactive and engaging. Constantly look for new opportunities to enhance your revenue. Research other shows and borrow their ideas.

The Planning, Coordination and Execution stages go hand in hand. As you are planning some stages you are also coordinating and executing others. The coordination phase consists of assigning tasks, timelines and personnel. How are things going to come together? It requires arranging tasks with all stakeholders, and takes the plan and prepares it for execution.

Executing is the coordination and managing of all logistics and the show as a whole. It is monitoring and controlling the sales process, ongoing tasks and the team while also identifying constraints and issues. The use of a project management plan and timelines is imperative to keep tasks on track and ensure completion of them.

The final stage which takes the least amount of time but is one of the most important is the

Once you have completed the tasks, settled all contracts, completed all reports, collected exhibitor and attendee surveys, it is necessary to evaluate with all stakeholders, to get their feedback and recommendations and analyze all the information. This will assist you in making improvements for future success. It is important to note, one successful event does not make you an expert. Many different situations and new challenges can impact your event, often unpredicted, so being prepared and proactive, as well as understanding your market and its conditions, is extremely important.

The trade show business is a lot of hard work, but exciting and rewarding and most importantly unique - as nothing is as powerful as face-to-face marketing!

Nancy Milani, CEM, CMP, has produced and coordinated over 200 events in the past 20 years from a variety of charity fundraisers, to professional sporting events, corporate events, conferences, trade and consumer shows. Nancy facilitates Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) courses throughout Canada, US and Asia for the Canadian Association of Exhibition Management (CAEM) and International Association Events & Exhibitions (IAEE) and presents workshops and sessions in event management, sales and marketing for corporations and at conferences. 

Image courtesy of emptyglass at

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

OG CSAE Spring-printempsr2015ExecutiveVol2

OG CSAE Spring-printempsr2015ExecutiveVol2

Succession Planning – an Important Part of Association Leadership

CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau’s February luncheon and presentation “Succession Planning – an Important
Part of Association Leadership” was generously hosted by the Hilton Lac-Leamy and sponsored by
the Chapter’s professional development partners, Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre.

Succession planning is not an issue that many organizations address in any systematic way. Because most not-for-profit organizations have limited resources and deal with a variety of organizational challenges, thinking about who the next CEO might be or what would happen if the Director of Finance suddenly left is often not high on the priority list. However, not only do association leaders need to think about how they will continue to fulfill their mission if a key staff member left, they also need to address changing demographics and the realities of today’s workforce capacity.

Although the type and extent of planning will be different, organizations of all sizes need to have some sort of succession plan. With careful planning and preparation, organizations can prepare for a generational transfer of leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly when key employees leave an organization.

Three association leaders, Jody Ciufo, Executive Director, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, the national voice for the full spectrum of affordable housing issues, Ondina Love, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) and Paul Melia, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), led by moderator Nancy Barrett, CAE, Association Management, Consulting & Evaluation Services (AMCES), shared how their organizations are dealing with the issue of succession planning.

The takeaways from this session are:
  • Small associations typically have to look externally for replacements should a key staff resource leave. It was also emphasized that providing existing staff with opportunities for development will help retain stars within the organization.
  • A succession plan policy is important and should be reviewed annually.
  • Boards may consider having an insurance policy for the CEO to fund the transition and executive search costs that would be incurred if she/he had to be replaced due to death.

Medium and large associations could deal with a sudden departure as follows:

  • Senior staff should be trained and prepared so that the CEO’s duties can be shared among them while a replacement is found.
  • If feasible, a Chief Operating Officer position could be established. The COO would understand all aspects of the organization’s operations and could step in in an interim capacity should the CEO leave. 
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Are Your Communications Clear Enough?

Does your association clearly communicate your value proposition to your members?  Does it instill FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)?  Does it truly provide a reason for your members to engage?  Is it all about YOU, or do you write it so that it is all about THEM?

If your answers to the above are "No", or "I'm not sure", then you may be sabotaging your efforts.

Everyone is working on budgets these days; people are watching their spending, and as a result, you need t put your best foot forward - and ensure that your communication shows that you really are the ONE place that they will receive the best information, education, and resources -- or they may go elsewhere.

You can start by ensuring that your communications engage members and stakeholders, and reflect that their story is important to the story of your association.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

What Is Your Purpose?  Have your clearly outlined your purpose, or are you banking on a mission/vision statement that was drafted many years ago?  Educate your members, in every way (email, social media, your website) on what your association does to impact/improve your community.  Simply outlining benefits is not enough - associations need to work hard to name a benefit and provide concrete examples on how that benefit creates change.

Offer Something NEW:  Just because you have a program or service that you have been offering members for years doesn't mean it is still relevant.  Take stock of what you are doing, what people are buying, reading, or working on and see what you can eliminate and ADD to better enhance your value.

Be Where They Are:  Do you offer the same methods of communication as you have for the last several years?  Where are your members now?  Do you have an active LinkedIn group and Twitter handle?  Are you offering podcasts, webinars, or hybrid events?  Where do your members see you and where should they see you?  All questions that should be asked when developing communication plans.

Be Responsive:  There are literally thousands of tools available to help you track activity; who has opened emails, who has clicked on links, who is downloading resources.  Don't let these fall through the cracks!  Part of an effective communication strategy includes actual conversations.  Follow Up!  Ask for feedback.  Offer them other resources.  Have a conversation.

What else could you be doing to enhance your communication?  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles