Did that headline encourage your eyebrows to rise ever so slightly…or perhaps cause an eye roll?
Are you thinking, “Pfft! How dare she call herself an expert!”
An expert is defined as: A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.
It doesn’t mean that someone is the best, or the most knowledgeable on a specific subject or area; it simply means that they feel (or others feel) that their knowledge base is adequate enough to place a value of “expert”. It also implies that they are continuously:
- Learning – webinars, conferences, lectures
- Researching – writing and publishing, investigating, challenging
An expert is someone who is a resource for information – someone who can help others make an informed choice without necessarily assuming responsibility.
We need more experts in the sustainable meeting and event industry. Specifically, we need more suppliers who are willing to position themselves as experts: of their products, of their industry. We need suppliers who will claim the expertise, the value that they bring and permit themselves to be an expert and become the trusted advisor.
When did I get this little brainwave? Well…..it was during a recent workshop about the APEX/ASTM Sustainable Meeting Standards. The standards are structured in such a way that in order for the event to reach a specific level of compliance (Level 1,2,3 or 4), both the supplier and planner must work together. In many cases, it may be the planner who is the perceived “expert” about sustainable event strategies.
During our workshop, we discussed the fact that this perceived inequality can disrupt the process where the planner feels the need to “educate” and the supplier feels that they are not being treated respectfully as knowing their own product.
This inequality can impact negotiations and ultimately slow the process.
A successful, sustainable event relies on a strong partnership between the supplier and the planner: reliance on one another and a circle of trust.
How can a supplier become an expert in sustainability?
- Claim the expertise and the value that it brings – knowledge is power!
- Become the trusted advisor, able to help planners navigate the trade-offs.
- Do not be afraid to be wrong – we learn from failure
- Become familiar with the APEX/ASTM Standards; pay particular attention to the definitions and language.
- Do research. Be prepared to offer sustainability solutions during the contract negotiation process.
- Offer assistance and information – become a resource for the industry
- Attend webinars, seminars, etc. designed for sustainable meeting planners – find out what they need.
- Say to yourself: “I am an expert because…..”
People are hesitant to declare themselves as sustainability experts because they are afraid of being wrong.
Do not be afraid to arm yourself with knowledge. Do not be afraid to place a value on that knowledge. Permit yourself to become the expert – the industry needs you.