Viewpoint: What's Your Professional Mindset?

Mel Baglio, AV Chicago
(Image credit: Future)

Professionalism has been a hot topic in recent months, as the live event industry roars back to life from a two-year hiatus. In August, Live Nation reported it had sold more than 100 million tickets for concerts this year, which was more than the full ticket count for 2019 (and that was a record-setting year). That means the demand of labor in the events industry, not just in traditional corporate events but large scale social and entertainment, is at an all-time high, and companies are looking to hire the best talent available.

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Being a professional is more than dressing the part or being on time. Although those are important pieces to consider, there are certain characteristics that can allow someone to stand out as a professional.

This industry needs people who are ready to take on challenges, galvanize one another, and lean on each other’s strengths. There are no “easy gigs” right now; time and resources are scarce. We need people to help drive the success of events going into 2023, because there is no sign of demand slowing on the horizon.

Positive Attitude

Bringing a positive attitude to work every day is not always easy with long days and quick turnarounds, but we are all fighting the same battle and trying to accomplish the same goals. That's why we need to work together.

A concept discussed in The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership is "above the line and below the line." If you are operating above the line, you are open, curious, and committed to learning. You can respond effectively and usefully in any given situation. If you are below the line, you’re closed off to ideas—your results might support you in the near term, but will be at the detriment to the rest of your team. Be ready to be a team player and collaborate with others. Be open to change and be ready to lend a hand.

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Being able to relate to one another is critical during these stressful times. We are all human beings, and we want to be understood and appreciated. People aren’t perfect.

This industry is growing rapidly, and mistakes will be made (opens in new tab) along the way. There are a lot of missing positions and pieces. We can’t scale up without people giving grace, and there is no time for anyone to be a jerk. How you communicate and carry yourself matters.

If you have a fixed mindset of how things were in the before times, you are not open to new ways of doing things. Professionals will have a growth mindset, being open to others, and challenging the status quo in a respectful, not condescending way. This will foster an environment of respect, create higher levels of productivity, allow more efficient conflict resolution (opens in new tab), and enhance communication. Actions always speak louder than words—how you act even under times of stress shows the kind of professional you truly are.

More Than Words

Maintaining effective work habits is a skill that not everyone has, but it’s instrumental in being a successful professional. Doing what you say you will do, by when you say you will do it, not only shows people they can trust you, but it also shows your professionalism and how you manage priorities. You can be a great engineer or technician, but if you cannot keep up with your schedule, projects, and deadlines, you can never truly be successful.

Actions always speak louder than words—how you act even under times of stress shows the kind of professional you truly are.

The lack of accountability is a ripple effect that’s larger than anyone can comprehend. From labor coordinators to project managers, everyone will need to put in extra time and resources to cover for your shortcomings. You may find that you are offered less work in the future, because companies aren’t willing to put up with inconsistencies, especially with such a tight labor market.

Everyone needs to be accountable for their actions on and off the clock.  Calling out of an event last minute because you double-booked yourself—or missing a deadline because you lost track of time—is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. People will notice and it could impact your ability to get work in the future.

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The live event industry isn’t slowing down. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 16,600 openings for meeting, convention, and event planners are projected on average each year over the next decade. Many of those openings will be from people exiting the labor force or changing occupations.

This is the time to strive for raising the bar on professionalism. We need to show up to support each other, allow room for new ways of thinking and growth, and be accountable. Show up to put your best work forward.

Mel Baglio is director of operations for AV Chicago, which provides AV production and event management services.