It’s safe to say that in the midst of coronavirus-induced social distancing, quarantining, working from home or whatever your new “normal” is, we all seem to be struggling to make peace with the fact that we have no definite time line of how long this will take to run its course. A lot of us have been forced to enact emergency plans, lay off staff, and/or rethink our business forecasting--all in the first few months of 2020.
Personally, I am going stir-crazy and wrestling with different scenarios of what the future will hold. But one of the most saddening things to see is how some of my colleagues seem to think that, in physically isolating ourselves, that we are also isolated from our community. That simply isn’t the case, especially if you’re part of an association in our tightly knit industry.
1. Take advantage of education.
In recent days, there have been some excellent resources put out there by fellow industry pros and various associations. Timely education has been rolling out in response to COVID-19--WIPA, in particular, created a webinar series to talk about some pressing business topics. NACE and ILEA have been equally proactive in spreading great advice and helping many business owners navigate this transition, from posting CDC guidelines, offering travel and health tips, and hosting roundtables. Additionally, they’ve provided access to resources such as legal tips, cancellation insurance Q&As, and crisis communication guides.
Know that these associations and organizations are doing everything they can right now to keep their members informed, so you’ll want to make time in your schedule to read an article, join a Facebook Live discussion, watch a webinar, and more. We can’t be too prepared or well-read right now, specifically as it pertains to our businesses and clients.
2. Connect virtually.
In-person meetings and speaking engagements have, of course, come to a screeching halt, and it’s not clear when they’ll likely pick up again. So, in lieu of these gatherings, actively seek out ways to connect with your chapter(s) virtually, and think on ways that you can stay connected. Many groups are switching over to Zoom or Skype meetings to keep everyone connected.
Likewise, consider pulling together something informal, such as a private Facebook group. This will give everyone a platform to share their ideas and support one another. For example, quite a number of industry groups have opened the floor to swapping financial advice, new business strategies, solutions to staffing challenges, etc. Keep in mind that what works for others may not work for you (and vice versa), but note that there’s no such thing as too many resources.
Don’t be afraid to even take a page out of the above education book and hold your own quick Facebook Live session if you believe you have valuable tips to share. If you’re receiving a lot of questions about contracts, this could be your time to share your insight.
3. Give back in any way that you can.
Giving back may be a bit stressful or even unattainable in a time where leaving the house or excessive social interaction is dangerous, but, trust me, there are so many ways that you can lend a hand to your creative partners and fellow association members.
Beyond offering advice and spreading the wealth of education, take time to leave some positive feedback or reviews for other members on third-party websites. This is the perfect way to support from afar, and when event season comes back full-throttle, their high rating will put them in a position for new clients to potentially hire them and spread the word.
Post-The Special Event and Catersource, take a look at the business cards you’ve accrued and the connections you made from networking in Vegas. So many associations and groups were present, most of which might need a little boost after being thrown back in the mix of things. Reach out to any fellow chapters, members or otherwise that you had a chance to connect with and see if they need help. You may find yourself in a spot to fill one of their webinar slots, extend some kindness with delivered meals, or even donate to their fundraiser if it’s within your means to do so.
If anything, let’s take comfort in the fact that this hardship is not discriminating against anyone--we are all being affected in one way or another, and it’s crucial that we take this time to support each other and face each obstacle head-on. Your association could be the sense of security that you need to get through this!
Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. Dennis is the current international president for WIPA.