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As a Chairman of the initiative, I was working with my team in terms of connecting with potential associates locally, in India and abroad. The core objective of Wordcon is to connect Indian freelancers to the global community and share best practices. Here are some of the learning in this Campaign :
- Communication is the Key but depends on the lock too. A rusted lock will not open with any key, however well designed.
- Power and interest to listen to a stranger’s proposal without prejudice is directly proportional to fulfillment of one’s own interest.
- Reference from a credible quarter is important but not sufficient.
- Small Business Owners ( < 100 employees) are agile and supple but they believe in a philosophy called “grow or get squeezed” and this philosophy with an urgency attached prevents them in “concentrating” on distant and profound themes of business.
- Communication on the theme – “Will you be this Conference’s friend with association, money, outreaching and all of them combined ?” must be without any agenda. It must be clear, unambiguous and fixed.
- There must be a philosophy – simple business logic may get a hand to write a cheque but not a heart that shares your beats.
- Social Media has high noise and is ruled actually by probability in predicting being sold to delegates although most of the campaigners – successful (in getting paid delegates of critical volume) and failed ones (not reaching the said critical volume) do not acknowledge it. The former believes that it was their hard and innovative work and the latter does not because failure is an orphan.
- There must be one person in the Team who must be simulating the unpleasant but the necessary role of the proverbial “nagging wife” – continuously reminding to tie this loose end or that. Fortunately, we have one in our team.
- There are four kinds of “influencers” or “speakers” a Conference will encounter while selecting its speakers / panelists.
Universal Teachers : They are natural teachers and are always interested to share their experience. Honest and competent, they also have highly effective communicative power. They also do not have “airs”. They consider it their duty to share their learning not for any purpose other than for the joy and duty of sharing.
Top of the Circuit : They have made a niche in the speaking / talking / mentoring circuit. Soon, they find themselves busy in these activities and this becomes a regular job. Too much frequency necessarily brings a) re-hash communication b) spreading out in apparently diverse areas
Auto-Promotion : They are generally poor in terms of buying marketing time, prime time or social media horns and trumpets. They do it themselves and in an auto-mode. Writing about self in an interesting manner even in a surface level needs quite a high level of literary skill, repetitions and urgency make the task onerous and it becomes visible that the “self” is getting tired in “self-projection.”
The Entitled : This type must be avoided at all costs. These people consider being a speaker /panelists a kind of entitlement, a divine right, an universal imperative. They are called “কেষ্ট-বিষ্টু” in Bengali with a pejorative tome which translates roughly as “High Level Deities” and since they consider your invite as an entitlement or a divine right, they are least interested to consider what value they bring to your customers, i.e. your paid delegates or their areas of interest.
I shall close this post with a method by which I had this classification made and it was during the Wordcon 2015 – 1st Freelancer’s Summit in November 2015
We described our conference concept and target audience and sought speakers in certain predefined areas and in a pre-defined format and within a deadline. An “interested” speaker responded after deadline and proposed to speak on an unrelated theme. Proposed is a wrong word – he demanded to speak on a theme. We communicated that his proposition did not match our target audience’s area of interest and more important, being past deadline, we had our speakers already finalized.
The first three would have considered this as a routine thing. Not the Entitled one and our sample was of that variety. He was livid. He considered this as a “rejection” – a heretical posture. The more we explain our reaction as “not-fit”, he was educating us his importance as a speaker / panelist and recited a list of his “gracious presence.”. We humbly explained that we do not contest that at all but this was a fitment issue and we did have such instances and no other person reacted that way. He would not budge and pressed on. It became very unpleasant as we found ourselves interrogated about not appreciating his greatness.
Then, a lady of our team asked him with sweetest of voice – “My noble Sire, why do you bother so much ? By your own admission, you are of a higher category and we are convinced, yes, we are – we promise by keeping our hand on our grandmother’s head, we do understand. Ours was an inconsequential one considering the ones you have been invited and anointed perhaps as per your own admission. Then, may I ask, why are you so livid ? Why do you bother so much ? Why are you so angry ?”
I watched the Entitled one some five feet away in an oblique angle and a strange silence hung like drops of mist for few seconds and that silence was deafening.