Key takeaways from #AIIP19

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I recently attended the annual conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals in Philadelphia. This is my 19th consecutive AIIP conference, and I make it my primary conference for the year. While I attend several others, this one is in my calendar, and everything fits in around that. It’s in my budget, too, so there’s no problem attending. You can see my recent LinkedIn post on why this is a must-attend event.

As promised in that post, here’s a recap of some key takeaways from this year’s conference:

  • Change is constant – AIIP is a small group, and you see many of the same people year after year – with some new people mixed in. It’s easy to spot trends in our businesses, and the theme continues to be “Change.” We’re all taking on new challenges and adapting to our clients’ ever-changing needs. Sometimes they’re not radical shifts, maybe finding a new way to use a current skill or adding something new to our skill set. It’s about asking the right questions and listening for opportunities As entrepreneurs, it’s so valuable to catch up with your friends and learn about these business pivots.
  • How to attract clients – After nearly 20 years in business, I’ve learned that chasing clients doesn’t work. When I mentor new business owners (AIIP has a great mentoring program), we discuss how to make it easy for clients to come to them, ready to work with them, so there’s no selling in the traditional sense. It’s a much more effective way to build a business. It took me a long time, and when I finally understood this concept, my business became more profitable, and I started having more fun. Again, it’s great to attend the conference and learn new ways to attract clients, what’s worked for other members, and what hasn’t.
  • Slow down to speed up – Keynote speaker Liz Bywater talked about the importance of not being that blur – rushing from one task to another (she’s obviously seen me work). Take some time for a “strategic pause.” Look at your goals, what will move you toward those goals (accelerators), and what can impede your path (decelerators). She recommends accountability partners and quarterly getaways – even for just a couple of days – to have fun, clear your thoughts, and take it easy. You’ll be more effective when you take the time to slow down for a while. I’m already connected to two accountability partners but still working on those quarterly getaways.
  • It was worth attending just to hear Sue Feldman speak – As an AIIP past president, I had the honor of being part of the group that brought Sue as the 2019 Roger Summit Lecture Award recipient. Each year, the past presidents select someone who, like Roger Summit, inspire our members through their “demonstration of self-renewal and continual learning.” Sue, one of the founders and early presidents of the association, is the perfect example of how our careers and businesses continue to evolve through what Sue calls “happy accidents,” although I suspect there’s more than just happenstance involved. And what a great reminder from this expert in cognitive computing, search, and text analytics that we still need human dialog to resolve ambiguities and focus our (and our clients’) questions.

Thank you to all the speakers for sharing your knowledge, and thank you to the AIIP board and volunteers who continue to bring us this face-to-face networking and learning opportunity. I always return energized, connected, and informed so I can serve my clients the best way possible and create a business that makes me excited to wake up each day. Looking forward to AIIP’s 2020 conference in my hometown, Denver, Colorado!

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