Social networking. Online education. Webinars. Forums. On-line meetings. LinkedIn. Virtual conferences. The opportunities for professionals to meet, learn and network have increased exponentially. The Internet creates a time-saving and cost-efficient medium for busy professionals and the firms for which they work. It is important to remember though, the value provided when people gather together in person to share ideas and learn from one another – the good, “old-fashioned” roundtable.
Roundtables are a wonderful forum for professional development, and the benefits are several.
Your firm benefits.
For organizations with a national or international membership, regional roundtables are a marvelous way for people with similar roles and interests, who live and work near each other, to meet and share their successes and work together on solutions to common challenges. Your firm will save the costs of in-house training or travel, while benefitting from a more educated staff. Because whatever type of roundtable you attend, you can take the insights you learn back to your firm, and share them with your colleagues.
You benefit – when you attend a roundtable.
You have an opportunity to learn from a better source than a book, video, brochure or salesperson – in a roundtable, you can learn from the best source of all – your peers. While the table may indeed be round, it may also be square, u-shaped or even non-existent. Figuratively, however, it is round. There is no beginning, end, top, bottom or middle at this table, and there is no “leader” at the head. Everyone is equal here, and there is simply a facilitator for support. In a setting where everyone is equal, people are comfortable to express their opinions, share their experiences, and to be themselves. When our minds are open, and free of preconceptions, we learn.
You also benefit when you facilitate or organize a roundtable.
Facilitating a roundtable is an effective exercise in meeting organization, and also an excellent first venture into the realm of public speaking. You need only be interested, not an expert, on a topic. Your role as facilitator is to organize and guide the discussion. You are there to keep the discussion flowing and focused, and to ensure all participants have an opportunity to contribute. If you are nervous about public speaking (as most people are), opening the meeting, occasionally asking questions and closing the session in a small, informal group setting can be the ideal way to practice and gain confidence.
As a 15-year member of PAICR (the Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources), I have attended my share of roundtables. At the annual PAICR conference, many attendees find the roundtables are the most valuable sessions. The small size and participants’ common experiences, similar roles or interests, allow informal and open interactions. People are comfortable sharing their experiences with each other, and often learn more from others’ real-life experiences than they do from other sources. And, often a face-to- face conversation with a peer offers far more value (and enjoyment) than any on-line forum or tech link can provide. I remember when I started my current position, I had no background in the asset management industry. I was making small strides in my attempts to grasp the inner workings of the asset management industry when I attended my first PAICR roundtable. I could not contribute much to the discussion and mostly just listened. That day I finally got it. Invaluable day. Invaluable roundtable.
That was 15 years ago. Roundtables are as popular and valuable now as they were then. This Thursday, we will welcome a dozen PAICR members to our offices for a roundtable – this time, the topic of discussion is RFP/Consultant Database Best Practices. I am eager for our newest team member to attend and experience her first roundtable. I am interested to learn how our contemporaries structure and manage their teams and processes. I am looking forward to reconnecting with PAICR members I have not seen in a while and to making new acquaintances.
Roundtables provide a forum for open interaction, and idea and experience sharing. They promote practical education and professional development. Roundtables give professionals an opportunity to organize, manage and facilitate small groups, thereby developing communication, team and management skills. And roundtables help people connect with people. I welcome every opportunity to take advantage of all the benefits roundtables offer.
Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., a preeminent marketing consulting firm to asset management firms ranging in size from start-up firms to some of the world’s largest investment firms with over $1 trillion under management. Charnley & Røstvold helps clients with competitive positioning, marketing strategies, key messages, presentation refinements, communications and sales training, consultant relations and client service programs.
Linda Sherman is Chief Administrative Officer at Charnley & Røstvold, Inc.