8 October 2015 | Mark Whitakker
A couple of months ago I was invited to speak at a facilities management conference organised by RBS for its internal FM staff at the fantastic Gogarburn complex.
The invitation came from Jourdan Mccombe, senior FM manager at RBS, who regularly attends my BIFM North 'Key Learning Events' and helped me arrange an event at RBS, Manchester earlier this year.
I started the presentation by making an apology; for the fact that most of the presentation was me talking about me! I tried to reassure them that I wasn't a narcissist, but had been asked by Jourdan to give a personal perspective about my own 'BIFM journey' and to encourage the audience to make the most out of their own membership.
I soon recalled my very first BIFM event I attended around five years ago. It was a bit of a disaster; I lacked the self-confidence to start networking and after the site tour, made a tactical retreat. It took another 12 months before I attended my next event at Liverpool John Moores University. The subject was social media and what a contrast; I really enjoyed the content of the discussion, the hosts Don Searle and Matt Tucker made me feel really welcome and I made some great connections that day including Steve Gladwin and Nazali Mohd Noor, with whom I have remained close ever since.
I explained that this event was symptomatic of my FM journey since in terms of stepping out of my comfort zone, taking on fresh challenges and working hard to expand my FM industry network, as well as my skills and knowledge.
I finished the speech by offering three key benefits I think FM professionals can obtain by attending BIFM events if they, like me, are prepared to step out of the comfort zone and give it a go.
Firstly, they are excellent opportunities to expand and add variety to your FM network. BIFM events are not gatherings of pushy sales people wanting to do the hard sell. They are an excellent means to talk to and get to know fellow FM professionals, who hold a great range of roles within the industry.
Secondly, the events can be great opportunities to develop your skills and knowledge. I have learnt so much by listening to what industry experts have to say on a host of different topics; whether it is delivering strategic facilities management or the best means to measure performance, for example.
Finally, they can also be forums to absorb, share, discuss and apply industry best practice. I have regularly had conversations with attendees who have been able to practically apply the learning gained and have tangibly improved their own job performance. I like this quote from professional development guru, Brian Tracy.
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new."
So why don't you give it a go and get along to the next BIFM event in your region?
See all BIFM events at www.bifm.org.uk/events
Mark Whittaker is business development manager, Integral UK Limited & deputy chair, BIFM North Region