Planning Ahead in a Team Setting

When you own a business or hold a leadership position, planning ahead can save you time, money and effort in the future. By simply looking to the future and setting some goals, you can not only increase productivity, but also prepare your company for any industry-wide or company-wide changes on the horizon.

As the busy season settles down and the year comes to an end, there is no better time to evaluate your company and start planning ahead than the present.

At Fantasy Sound, we are sure to have an end-of-year meeting that wraps up all of our efforts of the last calendar year. This is an opportunity for us to talk about what worked well and what didn’t work quite as expected. We also take this time to set goals for the upcoming year. I believe that everyone’s opinion is valuable and that a business is a team effort, so we really value hearing our team’s thoughts and coming up with a strategy for next year.

This end-of-year meeting is something that can be put into place in every company; however, keep in mind that the content will vary depending on what your company’s values are and where you see your future. For example, while we may be looking to boost our bottom line next year, expanding your professional network may be more of a priority for your brand.

Of course, it can be difficult to plan ahead when employees come and go. As committed as your staff may be, it’s important to remember that their lives will change and you may inevitably find yourself without a team member that you had planned around. Regardless, it’s essential to include these employees in your end-of-year meeting as well – in fact, hearing them out may alert you to some changes that need to be made in order to keep them on board.

As much as you value each and every employee, remember that everyone is replaceable – if someone were to leave, you would need to replace them. Having a strong foundation ensures that these transition periods go smoothly, so focus on building a company culture of trust, empowerment and community.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.

 

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Go Big or Go Home: Turning your local network into a national network

As my favorite book Never Eat Alone shares “your network is your net worth.” Coming from experience, my own connections have been invaluable to me – and not just because they offer me places to hang my hat when I’m traveling around the country (although that certainly helps!).

If the idea of having a national network seems overwhelming or unreachable to you, I’m here to debunk all of your fears and tell you that it is indeed possible and manageable. Before starting my own business, I worked at a local wedding venue, which allowed me to get to know many of the wedding pros in the region. My local network grew quickly, but when I started my own business, I came to the realization that I needed to branch out to truly capitalize on the market.

Here are some tips that I learned along the way:

Share your expertise

Projecting yourself as an expert in your specialty is the number one way to get your name out there and begin to grow connections. This can be done in many ways and, over the years, I’ve grown my network through guest writing, speaking engagements and simply reaching out to those in need of some help. Guest writing is a great place to start, especially if you’re not a fan of public speaking. Reach out to some of your favorite publications and offer yourself as a guest writer or as a resource for them to use. Be sure to have some potential topics on hand!

With that said, speaking is truly what has transformed my network, my business and my life. I started out speaking at local associations among my industry buddies, but once I began pitching myself to bigger national conferences, everything changed. Not only do you get to know other speakers and some of the industry heavyweights, but you also put your company in front of other professionals who may reach out for help or consultation. You know your stuff – so go on and show it!

Be persistent

It can be easy to feel discouraged when you get a rejection email, but let me tell you – for every keynote speech I’ve given, I’ve received tens of “no thank you”s as well. Not everything will be for you, but don’t give up until you find the right fit. On that note, don’t be afraid to reach out to industry leaders and introduce yourself. For a minimal investment, you have a lot to gain!

Get ready to travel

It probably goes without saying, but having a national network does involve some traveling. Checking out new cities and meeting new people sounds like a blast (spoiler alert- it is!), but it’s important to understand the financial and time investment that it takes. It’s important to ensure that your company is at a stable point where you can take that time to travel, understanding that you’ll probably be taking a lot of work with you.

As incredible the experience is, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the costs that come with it – long workweeks, expenses of flights and hotels and changing time zones more than you change your jeans. I find the payoff more than worth it, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you dive in headfirst.

With that, remember to stay positive and keep pushing! If you visualize your final goal and never stop working towards it, you’ll get there in no time.

Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting, a wedding PR agency that works with wedding professionals here, there and everywhere. She’s a long-time industry writer, sought after speaker and unapologetic cat lady.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you enjoy some much needed relaxation and quality time with loved ones. 

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Building a Strong Destination Event Team

All events require a high level of teamwork and organization; however, the coordination of destination events involves managing vendors from different locations, so it’s essential to create a team of responsible and experienced professionals to ensure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

When sourcing vendors for the event team, there are quite a w considerations to keep in mind to ensure you handpick the best of the best.

 Who’s Who

Every destination event differs depending on where it’s being held, but they generally include several key players to ensure it all goes off without a hitch. More often than not, the event coordination is led by the head of decoration and the technical director. While the head of decoration is responsible for making plans for design and décor, the technical director should be out and about scouting venues and organization the technical details.

 Once the event’s framework is in place, it’s time to get down to the finer details. Enter the production team. The head of decoration and technical director provide the team with the plan and it’s up to them to put it into motion. They are responsible for everything from ordering all of the décor needs to constructing any on-site structures. Depending on the complexity of the event, a logistics team may be needed to keep the event timeline flowing – this includes lighting directors, transportation coordinators and traffic conductors, if necessary.

 Sourcing help from the destination can be especially helpful, since they often have extensive knowledge of the area and can be a valuable resource. Just be sure to qualify each person you bring onto your team – we’ve always found it helpful to have a quick run-through with everyone to put their skills to the test.

 Get Connected

With a solid event team in place, it’s time to work out the communication plan. This is especially important with destination events, as people are often spread out around the world until the week leading up to the Big Day. Our team relies heavily on phone and Skype calls to stay connected, since emails and SMS messages can be misconstrued.

 There are also plenty of apps to keep everyone on the same page – our favorites are SketchUp and Cast’s wysiwyg. They allow us to virtually collaborate on lighting and design plans in real time, which can be very helpful when you’re battling with different time zones.

Whether it’s weekly (or daily) calls or constant communication via apps, it’s essential that there’s a continuous conversation to keep everyone involved and on top of things.

 At the Destination

Once you touch down on the other side, it’s time for the fun to start! Depending on the size and complexity of the event design, the team may need to arrive up to a month prior to get everything situated. Smaller events may only require a few days of on-site preparation.

 With everyone in one place, communication is just as key. The head planner, head of decoration and technical director are responsible for coordinating the team as they put together a perfect event. Set aside time for a team meeting prior to the event to discuss the final result with everyone who is involved.

 With that, your destination team is ready to provide clients with their vision in an efficient and effective manner.

 Fabrice Orlando is the CEO of Cocoon Events Management Group, a luxury event planning company based in Marrakech, Morocco that specializes in high-end weddings and special events worldwide.

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Creating Meaningful Relationships Within Your Office

(Editor's Note: Our regular contributor, Jennifer Taylor, is back on the blog speaking to creating meaningful relationships within the office! Read more about her at the end of the post!)

Nothing impedes an efficient workflow like office discord. In fact, the most effective offices are filled with a network of meaningful relationships where everyone is ready and willing to help one another. Not only does strong team camaraderie increase job performance, but it also boosts organizational commitment and ensures that employees look forward to going to work.

Open communication

Of course, communication is the key to any relationship but it is especially important when it comes to the people that you will be surrounded by day in and day out. When building a cohesive team of like-minded individuals, it’s essential to instill open communication into the company culture from the get-go. That way, new hires will see and understand the expectations of being a team member and will rise to the occasion. This includes (but is not limited to) things like asking questions when you need help, bringing up issues in a respectful manner and making amends for things that didn’t go quite as planned.

Teambuilding techniques

One of the best ways to develop meaningful relationships within the office is to make sure everyone is happy! Happy employees tend to work much better together, so keep their personal needs in mind. Weekly team meetings are a great way to keep everyone on the same page and ensure everyone gets face time with each other, even those they may not see on a regular basis.

Hosting a team retreat is also a great bonding experience, but keep in mind that it will require time spent out of the office. (Trust me, it’s not a bad thing!) It doesn’t have to be any place special and you don’t need to travel far, but getting everyone out of the office together brings a new element into employees’ relationships. They’ll be able to let loose for a while and connect on another level, which they will bring back to the office and I guarantee that it will show in their teamwork. Plus, we’ve always found that stepping away from the office increases productivity – everyone needs a break from time to time!

Disagreements happen – that’s a fact of life. However, developing a company culture that brings people together and creates meaningful relationships will ensure that issues can be sorted out harmoniously and everyone gets along to ensure a job well done.

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor'd Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners who are new to the industry and looking to grow and develop their skills.

 

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