April 18, 2016

Trading Cards for Trading Tips

Illustration Copyright: kibsri / 123RF Stock Photo


What do restaurant servers and conference participants have in common?  They love coming home with lots of tips! 

Here is a ridiculously simple way you can enable a greater exchange of ideas at your next meeting, conference or event ... along with some variations to help you achieve other objectives: trading cards with topical tips from peers.

The Benefits
  • Facilitates informal interaction among both introverted and extroverted participants.
  • Enables wisdom sharing from experienced leaders in your profession and organization, as well as individual participants.
  • Offers a fun activity (collecting tips trading cards) that can be sustained throughout a multiple-day event.
  • Serves as a possible annual activity that can turn into a popular tradition.
  • Is an easy way to widely collect individuals' practical knowledge by issuing an open call online.
  • Captures content that can be repurposed in other forms after the conference ends.
The Process
Tips Card from the 2016 ABA Bar Leadership Institute

  • Brainstorm the long-term and short-term possibilities for trading tips cards to generate member value in the areas of community-building, networking, idea-sharing, and learning goals.
  • As with any project, set appropriate goals and objectives, identify evaluation metrics, and craft the action plan to achieve your goals and objectives including specific tasks, timelines, and resource personnel.
  • Collect tips that will support your overall goals and objectives. Craft appeals to possible audiences from which to solicit tips: open call, individuals who have served or are serving in leadership positions, subject matter experts, young leaders or student members, underrepresented voices, award winners, et al. 
  • Create a simple multi-purpose card design for individual tips, one that will look good in print, online, and in slides.
  • If desired, sort and/or tag tips by audience, topic, type, or other relevant search criteria.
  • Plan for how, to whom, and in what quantity you will distribute hard copy tip cards. Design any activities that will use the cards and prepare facilitators to lead the activities.
  • Prepare tip cards in final form(s) for production. Print appropriate number of hard copies. An affordable way to produce high quality four-color tips cards is to use one of the many online postcard printing sites.
The Engagement Options
  • Engage your community (online or at a conference) in selecting favorite tips using judging criteria you offer.  Think broadly about possible recognition categories. Recognize this selection by noting it on tip cards prior to printing or by adding a ribbon or notation in a tips display at a conference.
  • Use tip cards as a business partner sponsorship opportunity. Let sponsors select a tip they'd like to sponsor and pay for the printing of that tip card. Let them add their logo, and space permitting, a tip from their own experience. Sponsors handing out tips cards at their exhibit hall booth might help increase traffic.
  • Print tips in various quantities, so that certain tips are limited edition, making them more desirable for people to obtain. Think of pin collecting/swapping at conferences or reunions.
  • Include special tip cards from your current award winners and distribute those only at the awards ceremony helping spotlight the value award winners offer to people in the room who may not know them.
  • Use swapping tips cards as part of a community-building exercise early in your conference. Have blank cards available and ask participants to note a tip of their own to share. My Power Prospecting format would work well here.
  • Print up a complete set of tip cards on a higher quality cardstock and sell them as a limited edition fundraiser for your philanthropy or foundation and/or offer as a recognition gift to donors at a certain level.
  • Leverage the value of the tips cards at both the start and end of a conference. At the start, have participants form small groups and share the tips they most seek: "I need ideas on how to ... " Then engage the entire room in swapping tips cards, challenging participants to seek tips that their small group colleagues might value before returning to their small group to share the tips they collect.  At the end of the conference, have individuals look though all the tips cards they collected during the event and select the 2-3 they first plan to implement. Then engage them in sharing those tips with other participants.

How else could you (or have you) used simple tips trading cards to help your members, colleagues, or conference participants obtain the ideas and insights they seek?