Exhibition World Issue 2 | Page 27

Stateside with Stephanie

Building and maintaining communities takes work

Stephanie Selesnick spoke with Dana Freker Doody , Juno ’ s VP of marketing and communications , who explains how organisers can avoid some common mistakes when building communities

C ommunity this . Community that . So many organisers are getting it wrong . To save you and your teams the aggravation and angst about building communities that last , Dana Freker Doody is someone who I have heard speaking about community building for years .

SS : What ’ s your definition of community ? DFD : Simply , a group of people that have something in common – it can be physical , digital , personal , professional – everyone on earth could be considered a community . Creating a community around an event keeps attendees , exhibitors and other stakeholders connected to each other with the managing organisation at the centre .
SS : Let ’ s discuss what most organisers and associations are doing wrong when trying to build community . DFD : In my opinion , the three top blunders are :
• Creating a digital community just because it ’ s en vogue . These folks just launch , boom , go . They don ’ t set a strategy that includes a clear purpose for a clear group of participants , and then how to engage and bring people together .
• Thinking that it ’ s easy . It ’ s not . It is both an art and a science to create , evolve , and grow a community .
• Trying to tie quantifiable metrics of the community to a quick fix . More lead time and patience are needed to realise returns . You must have buy-in
Conexpo-Con / Agg draws 139,000 to Las Vegas
Dana Freker Doody
Every three years , the largest construction show in North America takes place in Las Vegas , NV . The March ( 14-18 ) 2023 version of Conexpo-Con / Agg and co-located IFPE were , combined , the largest exhibitions held to date in United States this year . Covering 300,000sqm , and with 139,000 visitors and 2,400 exhibitors , it ’ s owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers ( AEM ). The Expo used the entire Las Vegas Convention Center campus , parking lots and the nearby Las Vegas Festival Grounds .
“ The innovations in the construction industry unveiled this week will play a role in helping construction professionals drive meaningful and sustainable economic growth ,” said Phil Kelliher , Caterpillar senior vice-president and show chair . “ Live events in the construction industry are very important , because you can see , touch and experience the products . That value was reaffirmed this past week across the show floor .”
and long-term support from the top level of your organisation . Some benefits are not always quantifiable – they are intangible , with longer-term results coming from sustained engagement .
SS : What have you seen done right ? DFD : Asking people what they want . You know what you want , but what do the people you intend to bring together actually want and need ? What ’ s in it for them ? A clear purpose is key . This circles back to why have a community ? Be sure to include newbies and experienced folks – those who may have never been listened to before . Re-evaluate what you ’ re doing and don ’ t be afraid to change content , delivery styles , and experiences to keep abreast with the times . Successful communities sunset programming before it becomes ineffective .
SS : If there ’ s one piece of advice you ’ d give anyone trying to form a long-lasting community , besides continuity , what would it be ? DFD : Anyone trying to form a long-lasting community should engage influencers who already have a commitment to their own , proprietary community but are also willing to be good advocates of the organisation or show to help the new community grow . Reach out and listen ! SS : Any other comments ? DFD : Community building is an art and a science . You need to care about nurturing the community , and community members have to know show organisers ( or the organisation ) care about them .
l Full disclosure : Dana , Tracy Browne , and I were the co-founders of # EXPOCHAT on Twitter , a weekly tweetchat that lasted 12 + years and was a community in the best sense of the word .
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