“My company is super cool. They have bi-weekly happy hours and organize grand parties for every holiday.”, said a friend when he and I met for coffee about 10 months ago.
He showed me pictures and clips. Everyone was having a blast. In the foreground, people were grooving to good music while fancy decor and mouth-watering food items dotted the background. I was jealous.
When I asked around in my company why we didn’t have a similar culture of fun, it became obvious to me that few people wanted to take initiative. An equal number who wanted to didn’t know how.
Several months, and 4 events later, I have learned what goes into making fun at work possible. There are some invaluable lessons in professional development to be learned from this process.
4 useful things that organizing large-scale corporate socials teaches you.
How to Effectively Pitch An Idea
No employee would want to attend an event if it is an out-of-pocket expense. That makes funding, the biggest roadblock to getting an event off the ground.
So when I thought of organizing an offsite, overnight trip to a National Park on the company’s dime, I needed to figure out a solid motivation for an executive to approve such an expense.
In the preceding months, I had heard of repeated mentions of high attrition at the company and in the industry. I sensed an opportunity there.
I created a detailed pitch on how a weekend trip would create an intimate community for participants, foster a sense of belonging, and give them reasons to look forward to workday lunch hours.
I was shot down by several execs, and even HR. But I kept updating and tweaking my slide deck and pitch until finally, one of the GMs agreed to be our sponsor.
It’s not only startup founders who need to be good at pitching their ideas.
As we go about doing what we were hired for, we will discover better ways to problem-solving that could drastically improve productivity and throughput. Learning how to effectively hold the attention of key decision-makers, while being concise can ensure your idea is pursued.
How To Manage Real-World Projects
I worked in my little sylo with limited interactions with other people.
Event management taught me a thing or two about dealing with people — setting expectations and picking my battles.
Negotiating with vendors, and getting approvals from my company’s legal and HR departments were like another full-time job. I had to ensure that contracts were promptly signed, and payments were being processed without losing sight of my primary responsibility — my engineering deliverables.
Learning to compartmentalize and effectively context-switching were among the most valuable takeaways from putting together large social events in 2022.
How To Connect With New People
I thought I had this part down.
Be genuinely interested in getting to know the other person. Maintain eye contact, smile a bit, and ask follow-up questions. Easy, right? Apparently not.
Most people I was reaching out to for assistance, didn’t need to work with me, as we weren’t collaborating on work projects. I needed to tweak my communication style to make people feel comfortable not only working with me but also putting in a few extra hours to help with events.
I interacted with several new people in quick bursts over a short period. This ensured that I actively worked on improving my communication style while my mistakes were still visible in the rearview mirror.
Discover New Strengths
I never knew I was good at poster designing.
I would never have known had it not been for organizing corporate events. Another thing I discovered about myself is that I can do a pretty dang nice job at speaking with a large audience, aka, being an MC.
I never knew I would enjoy it.
Planning corporate events gives us opportunities to step out of our tightly defined roles, try out new things, and learn new skills.
It might also help you pivot your career just like it did for one of my co-workers. She has a Ph.D. in material sciences but after working on a few corporate events, she has decided to join the global events team. It’s only been a month since her move but she says that this phase of her career is the most exciting.
Recapping for memory: 4 reasons to organize large-scale corporate events:
- You might unexpectedly discover something you’re good at or enjoy doing.
- You will have opportunities to tweak and improve your communication style to make it impactful.
- You will learn project management skills.
- You will get better at creating concise yet effective pitches.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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