"Having Marc Reede as your campus keynote speaker is like having 10 high-paid influencers address your students in one affordable package."
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I had no idea back in March that my business would go from booking live speakers at corporate events to NOT booking live speakers at corporate events OVERNIGHT, but it did. I guess it’s been the ultimate lesson in looking adversity in the eye.

The change for our business–much like the changes that you’ve experienced as a student, as a recent graduate, as one looking to enter the workforce–wasn’t an immediate change, but over the last couple of months our industry shifted away from live events to Zoom, WebEx, and other online platforms for virtual meetings.  And slowly but surely corporate meetings began to include those same speakers who were ever-popular at hotels and convention rooms in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Chicago, and Orlando at the start of 2020. And the pivot is upon us–with speakers now offering their same services and much more to even larger viewing audiences at companies across America–in a total virtual arrangement.

So what have I quickly learned that you too must understand?

A. This is still a game of sales and a game of numbers. But the game has changed a bit.  Companies that used to book multiple speakers at a series of events are now using 1 speaker at a single virtual meeting with a lower budget. So I need to make more calls and get more deals to make up for the difference.  And those opportunities aren’t easy to find.  And to top it off, my industry just got more competitive overnight. Because once the pool of potential business got smaller, all of my competitors started to fill up the fishing boats in my lake. And for those of you who know me, I’ve never really cared that much about my competition other than to know they’re there.  Because once I start to think about what my competitor would be doing in this same situation, I lose focus on my true prize.

Likewise in your world, many first-year job opportunities that were promised to your peers dried up.  So those candidates went right back into the pool with you.  You’ve got to be stronger, more aggressive, more organized, and be able to keep to a plan now more than ever.  And if you think that rejection played a role before, just watch your back.  EXPECT to get this job, but don’t ever assume it. KNOW that you have competition for this job, and let that knowledge push you to work that much harder to get it.  And when you get it, DO NOT pat yourself on the back for a job well done because this is only the start of many jobs to come.

B. This is still all about relationships.  Although the rules HAVE changed a bit.  I’ve had a key account at a major Hotel company for the last 15 years.  A “key” account to me is a relationship that I’ve built over the years who I can count on for multiple pieces of business during the year.  This is someone who trusts my business expertise, someone who knows that I can deliver, someone who feels comfortable sharing me as a contact with his key peers in industry for referral business. But it’s also someone whom I’ve taken the time to meet with and spend time with, someone who’s personal life matters to me, someone who knows that I care every single time that he calls or texts or emails.  But back to that key account at the major Hotel company.  He lost his job amidst this pandemic.  Let’s think about that one for a minute.

Here’s someone who I’ve called friend for the last 15 years now out of a job–for no reason of his own doing. While I know the potential ripple effects on my business that this loss may have, compassion and empathy must always come first.  How can I help out this friend in an industry that I know so well for the last 30 years of my life? The reality is that he knows this business just as well (if not better) than I do, so I have no worry that he’ll come out on top.  But those of us who see a loss like this as purely business are looking at things the wrong way.

Pivot away!