We were thrilled to see so many wonderfully new and familiar faces at the first EM Marketing Lunch & Learn of 2016! This time around we tried for a more interactive, collaborative agenda in lieu of the more traditional, presentational format we’ve used in the past. The result was a lively and engaging afternoon that allowed us to more deeply connect with each other on both a personal and professional level. Useful tips and advice were abundant for everything from personal travel to being a more efficient and mindful consultant. Below is a recap of the afternoon. Please feel free to leave thoughts and questions in comments section below, we’re interested to hear your perspective whether you were in attendance or not.
The exceptionally energetic Kimberly Wiefling led us in some introductory warmups to get our blood flowing and to get acquainted with each other. First we paired off and got silly, repeatedly counting to three, alternating one number at a time between partners (so that every time around the other person was starting with 1). Then we upped the difficulty by substituting sounds for one of the numbers, and then two of the numbers (wheee!). We then combined pairs into groups of four where we created team names, dances (So You Think You Can Dance it was not), and a story about our ideal day working together, one sentence per person at a time. Still awaiting a report to see if any group actually lived their ideal day.)
Then we took a few minutes for personal introductions — though this might have been a convenient excuse to throw a Koosh Ball around the room.
Sharing & Networking
Next Kimberly led us in some collaborative team building, using various categories to group us with new people each time.
First we grouped ourselves by day of birth, and used that as an opportunity to share consulting tips. Monika Lecas spoke of her efforts to get better at tracking her work and accomplishments with various projects over the years. She’s realized that after years of consulting most of what she’s done is in her head, rather than in a resume, LinkedIn page, or the like. So, she’s very focused on being better organized and prepared so she can quickly point to documented achievements when new work opportunities arise.
Q: Do you have advice and best practices for capturing your work history as a consultant?
Ken discussed how to manage projects when things don’t go quite right, and how to deal with unruly or troubling clients. His blunt advice was to be blunt: “Be upfront and own it. Take ownership of it, whether it’s your fault or not. That’s just part of being a consultant. Take ownership, apologize, then ask, ‘what can we do better?’”
Q: What is your approach when trying to get a wayward project back on track?
Molly Tapias talked about a related issue: setting expectations. In an effort to avoid the wayward project, she strongly suggested that one be super specific about expectations (from both the consultant and the client), exceptionally clear about deliverables (and what won’t be delivered), and urged consultants to share examples that illustrate those expectations whenever possible. Showing is always better than telling. 🙂
Q: How do you ensure that expectations are being properly set at the beginning of a project?
Next we got a little less serious, as we grouped ourselves geographically based on where in the bay area we live (turns out we aren’t too deep in the east bay). This was an opportunity to share what we love to do when we’re not consulting. Needless to say, we have a varied group with an amazing amount of talents and pastimes. Travel was big for a lot of people, but we also heard about Ryan’s passion for piano, Karen’s photography, and Melissa Lin’s sewing, to name a few.
Our third and final grouping of the morning was by what we’re most passionate about: Food, Sports, Movies, Music, or Travel. Amongst ourselves we discussed our love for and relationship with our chosen passion. We were supposed to talk about current projects, too, though this writer will admit that the sports group might have gotten a little too deep into fan trash-talking before time ran out.
Kimberly wrapped up the morning by having each of us say in one (and only one!) breath something that we took away from our discussion, but sadly I’m out of my one breath so I can’t say much more. Then it was time for lunch!
The afternoon was a couple of quick presentations to share some learnings and provide updates on projects. Mark Harnett discussed his current project, which is optimizing Facebook ad campaigns for his client. He explained how he was able to make specific adjustments to the content, targeting, and budgeting of the ads to bring an increase of 4x in conversions for his client in only two weeks. I, for one, learned that If you have a crappy ad, Facebook actually charges you more for it; better engaged ads drop the price. If that’s not motivation for continual improvement I’m not sure what is! Just don’t ask Mark his thoughts on millennials. 😉
Finally Ken & Jessaline gave a pseudo State of EM Address. It began with an overview of the vision for EM’s community and included an update on EM’s under construction office. Ken is very hopeful that the new space will let us grow our community more organically. As he said, “you have to plant seeds as you’re eating fruit as a consultant.”
He also advised that this metaphor can extend to finding future work from current projects. He suggests that a consultant start planting seeds immediately as you reporting findings. For example, he suggests approaching a client with the following offer: “If you have an extra half hour, I’ll take you to coffee and tell you all the things I’ve seen that need fixing.” Laying the groundwork for future opportunities can yield big benefits down the road.
Ken concluded with asking everyone in the room to make a Commitment to Action from the lists below. Even if you were not in attendance, I know he’d love it if you could commit to one, too. Come to think of it, the comments section of this here blog post might be just the place to speak up. What do you say? 🙂
- Schedule a lunch meetings
- Lead Peer Group (“Coffee Talk”)
- Lead Knowledge Group in Slack
- Write an EM Blog post
- Speak or teach at an EM event
- Be advisor for a day
- Join a Volunteer Event