We hear it year after year: the networking opportunities at Congress of Cities are one of the top reasons to come to the conference. Think about it–2,000 officials from all four corners of the country gather under one roof, for the purpose of making their communities better places to live. Some attendees are brand new, with fresh enthusiasm and and unfailing optimism; some have decades of experience, with stories to tell for every stage of leadership.
Congress of Cities attendees know the power of collaboration. They know that game-changing ideas can come from a pre-session chat with the person next to them before the workshop begins. They know that asking a question over lunch in the Exposition Hall can spark a lively dialogue that will result in a solution to an issue both leaders are tackling. They know that their time spent in the Conference Connection Lounge may introduce them to a new social network. Congress of Cities delegates are pioneering the newest trend in organizations: people-centered leadership.
In his keynote speech, futurist Mike Walsh shared the way office culture is changing to become more humanity-focused, rather than technology-focused. Walsh urged the crowd to consider this approach to leadership. The future of cities is all about the human connection. Communities across the globe will overcome their hurdles by focusing first on their residents, then using systems and tools to help them meet challenges and solve problems.
Sharing ideas is more important than ever for leadership. In this age of crowdsourcing and ubiquitous data, it’s crucial to make and maintain connections with both like-minded and diverse groups of people. NLC offers so many ways to do this. We invite leaders to join a constituency group, where they meet other officials who share a similar background. We also have numerous policy committees, where leaders can work on the issues they are most passionate about. We have a variety of ways to network throughout the conference to ensure that attendees are exposed to completely different voices.
We encourage city leaders to take Congress of Cities home with them by preserving the relationships they’re forming this week in Austin. By giving each other ideas and encouraging each other to think in new ways, you’re already leading your community into the future.