Sarah Coniglio and Slade ThompsonWith Valentine’s Day here, many of us are focused on the most important personal relationship in our life. No matter what the time of year, however, we should always be working to strengthen our key professional relationships too.

If you’re in event planning like us, these relationships often involve contacts at cities/jurisdictions and venues. These are the people who can bail you out when you need it most — or make your life frustratingly difficult. So it’s in your interest to show them the love once in a while.

Above all else, think of these contacts as human beings with real interests and concerns outside of work. Just like you, they aren’t necessarily defined by what they do.

When speaking or meeting with them, try to get a sense of who they are. Be observant. Are they married? Do they have kids? What are their hobbies? Are they a football fan? What’s their favorite restaurant?

Obviously, some people will be more open than others. But it doesn’t hurt to gently nudge conversations into the personal. You’ll know when to hold back with those who prefer to keep things closer to the vest. 

Getting to Know You

As you come to know the person better, you can pepper your conversations with the occasional question that’s not related to work. How did they enjoy their annual vacation to Cape Cod? How’s their spouse doing after the recent surgery?

When their birthday rolls around, go ahead and email them best wishes. And keep an eye out for what they or their organization has accomplished. For instance, you might send a handwritten note of congratulations if your contact has enjoyed a success. Taking the time to show you care can make a strong impression.

Another example: We have one contact who is very passionate about a certain disease. So each year, we make sure she has a backstage pass to watch the event’s closing ceremony and hear testimonials from people affected by the disease.

It can be rewarding to know professional acquaintances on a more personal level. Of course, we make it clear that if our contacts are ever in a pinch, they should call us — and that if we’re ever in a pinch, we’ll be calling them.

“Sarah and Slade’s Experience Hub” blog posts are featured monthly. Directors of production projects Sarah Coniglio and Slade Thompson each have many years of hands-on experience in almost every aspect of event operations and production.

Would you like to speak with an expert in event development and production? Please email Sarah or Slade today. 

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