Is your career at risk?

This recent post by Phil Fersht and Ollie O’Donoghue of HFS Research about the failure of many people to keep their skills up to date has inspired me to capture some thoughts that reflect my own experience.

In my event management business, after I’ve been hired to start or run an event, I usually need to acquire the services of several “hired guns” who could be needed to execute:

  • the content development;
  • the marketing;
  • the operations, and/or;
  • the sales to exhibitors and sponsors.

Usually, I will select many of the same people with whom I’ve previously worked to help execute these tasks. They are people who I trust – a trust that is validated by experience. I also have developed a ‘bullpen’, if you will, of additional resources to be called upon should one of my regulars not be interested or available. The success of any particular event, as well as the growth of my business, depends on finding backup staff who I can rely upon to do those jobs.

In the 15 years that I have been working, I have become shocked by the number of freelancers – and full-time people at event organizers – who have not kept their skillsets up to date to match the needs of modern business. In my situation those skills involve developing, marketing, operating, and selling to exhibitors. Many of these people have had big titles, but they lack a current understanding of what it takes to do the nitty-gritty details or execute the kind of digital tasks, like ad targeting/retargeting, that are important to success. Or they lack operational knowledge of important software tools like Salesforce or Marketo. As a result, they’ve become almost unhireable for my projects (and I wonder more generally).

Keeping up with the latest tools is critical. To practice what I preach, I am about to go into advanced sales training to keep my own skills sharp. In addition, I try to attend as many show attendee marketing events as I can find. I recognize the need to stay current and am committed to making the personal investment to do so. Some of my colleagues are doing the same, but certainly not enough. The thing to remember it’s up to you, not your employer to do this.

So, let me ask: what are you doing to keep up your skillset?

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