photo montage from connexfm 2022 conference

ConnexFM 2022: The conference for multi-site facilities management

ConnexFM 2022, the conference for multi-site facilities managers (FMs) and supplier professionals, was held in Long Beach, CA from April 25-27. For the 1,500 attendees, the event was a reminder of the power of in-person events and of the networking, education, and partnering opportunities they offer.

Here’s what made the conference memorable:

Facilities management (FM) runs on technology and so do FM conferences

SMARTNetworking badges, powered by AI, were central to fulfilling the event’s promise of next-level networking. When two attendees agree to exchange contact information, for example, they just click the buttons on their lanyard badges, which uploads each person’s data to a central event app. So long, business cards.

The technology also allows attendees to add notes for context via their smartphones. Why would context be important? During the two-day ConnexFM 2021 conference, SMARTNetworking tallied 45,407 contact exchanges, or more than 36 contacts per attendee. Without notes to provide context and aid recall, those 36 contacts would have been a confusing mess.

Getting personal with Magic Johnson

While technology is valuable, keynote speaker, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr., NBA Hall of Famer, three-time NBA Most Valuable Player and olympic gold medalist, demonstrated the raw power of personal rapport.

Johnson delighted the audience of 1,000 attendees with personal stories from his NBA and business careers. Magic Johnson Enterprises, a conglomerate of diverse companies including one in facilities management, employ 30,000 people.

Johnson shared five best practices for business success:

Work hard
At 62, Johnson wakes up every day at 4 a.m. without an alarm clock. After working out, he heads for the office where he spends the next 12-14 hours.

Never quit
His first business venture resulted in a loss of $200,000. Today, the business holdings in Magic Johnson Enterprises are collectively valued at $1 billion.

Never let “no” stop you
Johnson approached seven lenders for the purchase of a $22 million shopping center. Each said no. The eighth lender said yes. Two years later, Johnson paid off the loan with proceeds from the $46 million sale of the property.

Develop partnerships
Johnson deposited the $24 million profit from the above sale in the bank that made the loan. He and the bank have since partnered on multiple real estate deals.

Give back
Johnson’s goal is to help as many people as possible in the time remaining to him. He focuses on disadvantaged youths, adults, and families in urban settings. To date, one of his foundations has paid for the college educations of more than 1,000 students.

Be a leader
As a freshman in his first high school basketball game, Johnson posted a triple double—36 points, 12 assists, and 16 rebounds—which rocketed school spirit. Basketball and his dominant role on the team helped unify the otherwise racially divided student body.

Soft skills are important in facilities management

The educational sessions at ConnexFM 2022 featured technical and business topics about refrigerants, sustainability, RFPs, maintenance, and more, but this year, there was notable emphasis on “soft skills,” like communication and leadership.

FMs have always been technical experts in maintenance, building systems and equipment, but as technology, building complexity, and budgets increased, so too did the expectations of the FM job role.

FMs today are expected to be tech-savvy and able to analyze complex capital expenditures, compute ROI, create budgets, and present all three to company leadership. Presentation, communication, and persuasion skills are becoming essential to the ever-expanding FM job role.

An FM labor shortage is coming

By 2026, 50% of existing FMs are expected to retire, taking with them their vast institutional knowledge. Some industry sources are projecting FM labor shortages of 150,000 unfilled positions between 2026 and the end of the decade.

At ConnexFM, educations sessions, mindful of the looming shortage, focused on employment topics, like hiring and retention strategies and team building. Related topics that came up in conversations included succession planning and established career paths for young FMs.

Another option for understaffed FM teams in the future would be outsourced managed services.

Final words

ConnexFM ended on a festive note with a performance by Vanilla Ice, who invited anyone who wanted to dance to join him on stage. It got crowded up there.

By the end of the conference, ConnexFM succeeded in connecting professionals in facilities management and increasing their knowledge through quality education sessions, meetups, networking, and speakers.

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