POC 2013 through the Eyes of a Seasoned Conference-Goer
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At the 2011 POC Conference in Toronto, I had the pleasure of meeting a very enthusiastic attendee named Kelly Hipkin, and we’re now connected on social media. As this year’s conference approached, her growing excitement was clearly apparent, and I asked her to contribute to this conference series about what Professional Organizers in Canada and the Annual Conference mean to her.
My Personal Vantage Point of a POC Conference
It has been just over five years since I joined POC, but I’ve attended four conferences and plan to never miss one in the future. I attended my first conference in 2009 in Calgary. I was still a fairly new organizer and didn’t know too many people from across Canada. The classes were a great opportunity to learn from industry leaders and I discovered the importance of building relationships. The Calgary Chapter had been struggling through some growth issues, and we did not have repeatable processes or any succession planning in place. Carolyn Caldwell, from Ontario, met with me and two other Calgary organizers on the Sunday following the conference to discuss helping us. She was inspiring and we came away with new ideas to create a structure to grow on. This was my first experience receiving guidance from an experienced Professional Organizer who is a dynamic leader.
In 2010, the conference was in Montreal and I was unable to attend. Then came Toronto in 2011, one of my favorite conferences to date. My fear of flying was softened by travelling with the most wonderful colleague, Laurie Martinez of Simply Neat Ltd. We shared so many great learning opportunities together along with other Calgary organizers. We learned about how to create our “OM” (Operations Manual). It was the starting point for our year of growing and developing our business strategies together. To this day I am still very grateful for Laurie for helping me and I use my OM to keep me grounded.
Next came Vancouver in 2012. What a great ride this conference would turn into! I was so excited at the Calgary Chapter meetings in September and October and created such a buzz around attending the conference, that it inspired the largest Calgary turnout at an out-of-town conference – 17 people travelled to attend. We even had a non-member attend to check out the industry. We had a blast!!! My takeaway from this conference was that your competition is not just other organizers. We are in competition for how a family shall choose to spend their disposable income. Sometimes our services can be in the category along with a new car, a trip or some other household expense. It is our job to help people to see the value that a Professional Organizer can provide. This was so helpful in my future planning.
As the Calgary Chapter continued to show positive growth and development, we were pleased to have seven people fly to the Toronto POC Conference for 2013. Three of these people were on national committees for conference. It is wonderful to see the time and creativity that our Calgary Chapter members share to promote this association. This trip, my takeaway was about the “relationships.” The classes were all great and I did have some ah-ha moments to use in my business building strategies, but the people are what matters. When I did not win the Ambassador Award that I gratefully was nominated for by my Calgary colleagues, it was ok. Stephanie Deakin from BC won, and I have been friends with her since I joined POC five years ago. We met on a tele-class and always kept in touch. It is always a joy to see her each year at conference. The best part of my weekend was that Angela Wallace, a NAPO member that I met last year in Vancouver, accepted my invitation for breakfast. I felt like a winner getting to spend the morning listening to her life stories. On the Sunday morning after conference we shared breakfast and a cab ride to the airport. Learning from someone that has been in the organizing industry for over 20 years was the highlight of my trip. I was very saddened to learn of her sudden passing only nine days later.
Calgary has a chapter of over 60 people, and when the conference is in our city in 2014, you can be sure we will welcome everyone with open arms. Together we are better.
My desire for you is that you see that conferences are much more than the fabulous learning opportunities that take place. Yes, the training has been extremely valuable and I still incorporate useful methods in my business from these annual educational weekends. So much more than that, we build relationships that will help us grow our industry. From the very first time I met the Calgary POC chapter in January 2008, it has been my mission to grow awareness of the PO industry in Calgary and across Canada. I hope to see you in 2014 at the Conference in Calgary.
Photo courtesy of Martine Frigon