If you were suddenly asked to justify your job, would you be ready?

awesome-300x199It could be a performance review or budget cutbacks, but odds are that at some point you’ll be called on the carpet. And it only takes one misstep to sabotage years of your own hard work.

 

In this age of sequesters, recessions and the ubiquitous AEG Effect, you can’t rely on the C-suite to recognize your efforts or champion your worth as a meeting planner. It’s time to take charge of your career by implementing one secret move that will prove your worth any time it’s questioned: the justification kit.

 

Justification Kit

What’s a justification kit, you wonder? You’ve probably seen one before, especially when registering for an industry conference. Many conferences offer justification tools that prove the value of attending their event. These kits may include a letter to your boss explaining the event’s value, worksheets calculating the conference’s ROI for your company and other easily adaptable tools.

 

Now what if you applied the same idea to your career?

 

Value Versus Effort

 You probably already know that effort isn’t enough. Or you’ll figure it out in a hurry the next time you’re asked to report to the corporate execs or justify your department’s budget.

 

Can you find 15 minutes a week to organize a justification kit? This living document could eventually get you a raise or even save your job. The challenge is identifying key elements to bolster your worth to the powers-that-be and then tracking these elements over time.

 

What’s Your Professional ROI?

 

1. Know the Deep Data

You are building your own personal brand as a professional. Start by identifying your target audience (in this case, it could be your boss — or even your next boss). Then mine the deep data so you can present conclusions about your performance based on unbiased information.

 

How do you uncover deep data? In a nutshell, it means turning volumes of information into comprehensible patterns. Don’t just regurgitate attendee numbers and boast about an increase. Mine the data for the “why.” Done right, these numbers will reveal your efforts and successes.

 

You can even mine data from your failures and show how you used the occasion to drive value. Let’s say your first event of the year threatened to turn into a chaotic mess, thanks to some questionable venue mapping. Use the data to illustrate how you researched and used software (like SocialTables) to regain control and maximize the event budget in the process.

 

2. Turn the ‘Big Three’ Into Sticky Illustrations

You are enthusiastic and a master multi-tasker. Planners, by nature, usually are. But when you are tracking your professional ROI, it pays to have laser focus. Why not measure everything? It’s unrealistic to track all the tools or concepts you use.

 

Instead, pick three big ideas. These “Big Three” could be meetings, events or conferences that you plan. Or they could be strategies and objectives that align your professional efforts with organizational goals. Whatever you choose, you’ll use the “Big Three” to illustrate your contributions.

 

From proposal to execution and event ROI and ROO, dedicate yourself to documenting your winning tactics. As a bonus, share what you’ve learned with others and your boss along the way. Explain how you’ll use this information to make the next event an even greater success.

 

3. Track the ROO

ROI is so 2013. It’s time to track ROO so you can justify your worth by aligning meeting objectives with organizational goals.

 

ROO is a crucial tool for meeting planners to evaluate intangible benefits and worth. It is especially important if you can’t tie your event’s success to sales, or if you need to track member engagement or customer awareness. Media companies have increasingly used ROO as a useful and alternative way to measure the success of marketing campaigns, as you can see in this post by consumer marketing expert Dan Mayer.

 

Here’s how one trade association planner used ROO to justify her worth. For the better part of a decade, this planner had organized an annual event for the association’s young, new members.

But the numbers had been in a downward spiral that left her struggling.

 

To turn the tide, she tied the event with the family friendly nature of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions. Instead of a “have to go,” the meeting became a “get to go” because the whole family could attend together. She was able to demonstrate that if new members attended, they stayed in the profession and remained members of the organization longer. As a result, she was able to prove ROO that led to ROI — and the preservation of her job.

 

How does your justification kit measure up? What tools do you use to identify and track the professional contributions you make?