Anyone who’s racked their brain trying to come up with the perfect annual meeting theme, sought to refresh a training program or hit a wall formulating an interesting blog topic knows that new ideas don’t grow on trees.
Sometimes, we need a little bit of help. And almost all of the time, two minds are better than one, so broadening the idea funnel is typically a good idea. But who has the time, right?
You do, especially if you go about your idea cultivation in a speedy manner using any and all of the following 11 resources.
One view of Twitter is that it is the desired medium for vain people who like to talk about themselves – maybe tell the world whose dress they just spilled caviar on, in 140 characters or less. A more enlightened view for those who want to actually put the tool to work for them is that Twitter is an extremely efficient news (and idea) aggregator, bringing the latest right to your fingertips. All one has to do is set up a Twitter account and use the Search function to plug in topics relevant to you and your idea search, e.g., #eventprofs, #eventsmanagement, #professionaldevelopment, #workforcedevelopment, etc.
Social Media bookmarks
Similar to following Twitter, you should also bookmark (or sign up for email distribution for) blogs and online publications associated with your industry or profession. It’s not only a great way to keep current with the latest trends and best practices, it’s also typically a good resource for cherry-picking ideas that can help you improve what you do.
The default answer to almost any question is “look it up on Google,” and that response has merit when you are searching for ideas. Type in something like “corporate training venues in [location]” and you might discover awesome digs for your next event. The same goes for presentation tips, catering, learning platforms, registration software and much more.
The best organizations constantly solicit feedback and ideas from the folks whose opinion matters the most, their customers. Use surveys, evaluations, phone calls and just casual conversations to pick your customers' brains as a means to find ways to deliver a better product or service.
Without getting into “silos” and confining corporate cultures, suffice it to say that an oft-neglected resource is your co-workers. Even if they don’t specialize in what you do, they may have great ideas borne out of past work experience, outside-of-the-office experience or maybe just something they’ve read.
Friends and family
Like your co-workers, friends and family can be a great resource for ideas, and asking them not only empowers them to be of assistance, but also gives you something else to talk about besides cousin Nickie’s odd new significant other.
One of the best sources for ideas is people who do what you do but aren’t in competition. You can build relationships with such individuals through professional associations or just create your own private “roundtable” of experts to bounce ideas off. Those who are proficient at what they do never seem to have difficulty sharing what works for them.
You shouldn’t expect to get a lot from a competitor by calling them and asking for ideas, but you can gain useful intel monitoring what they do by perusing their website, social media and news releases. Not only is this a good source for ideas, but the information garnered can help you with essentials like pricing and marketing.
Associations and trade groups are the gathering point for peers and competitors, and a breeding ground for the latest best practices and ideas. Sometimes what you’ll “discover” is just today’s “pet rock;” other times it will be a lasting practice that will forever elevate what you do.
Experience as a participant/customer
They say experience is the best teacher, and that applies to experiencing the customer-experience end of what you do. Try out what you do, but as a customer. If that’s too awkward, go experience something similar put on by a competitor or peer.
Okay, the headline of this article says “mostly quick,” and this is the reason for the qualifier. Books aren’t quick. But, often times the best ideas are curated in books, with only bits and pieces revealed to encourage purchases. To get the best practices, the case studies, the awesome ideas of the best in the business – you have to read the book.
That’s just short of a dozen resources for ideas to help you do what you do better. What did we miss? Where do you find your ideas? GEt us to an even dozen, or even a baker's dozen, by using the Comments section below to share your thoughts on cultivating ideas.
If you want to know more about where we get our ideas – or just want additional information on ABC Signup and registration software – contact us at your convenience by email or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).