Meet Colleen Brzozowski
As a "small and mighty" association, you can build distinct, meaningful relationships and genuine, lasting friendships through SITE.
Having started as a Holiday Inn server (and moved quickly to the sales office!), Colleen’s 25+ year career ranges from on-property to DMC sales. She is currently serving as the 2020 President of SITE Chicago after having served 2 years as Director of Events and 1 year as Director of Sponsorship.
Covid-19 has been challenging for Colleen as her DMC role was permanently eliminated on March 13th, 2020. However, being in the very early batch of those affected by the pandemic, she says she has subsequentially been able to be a great sounding board and resource to those who unfortunately followed after her. She jokes that she has become a full-time volunteer during this time and has thankfully been able to give even more time and energy to SITE and an industry that she loves. She beautifully expresses how we are all in the same storm, just in different boats.
She loves this industry because to her mind, travel is the gift that keeps on giving, through its memories and stories. She maintains that the stories of our experiences, no matter how many times we tell them, continue to energize us and those around us. They are great topics for conversation and being able to share your travel experiences gives you a continued sense of pride, especially if the trip was earned. Furthermore, once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, it's rare that you don't want to explore more, so she says the ROI of incentive travel is much more than a “One & Done” initiative!
Colleen joined SITE in 2016 and says it has provided a much more personal and intimate experience than other industry associations. From the moment she joined SITE, she says she knew it was special. As she heard on a SITE Chicago call the other day, "the hugs and kisses that you see at a SITE Conference go far beyond hello”. These people are lifelong friends, who you trust and rely on and who are truly interested in your success. The ability to form relationships with people from around the globe is such a huge benefit. She is so thankful for all the Zoom meetings that cross time zones and bring us into each other’s homes for genuine conversations about how we are doing and how to help each other. With the size of SITE being "small and mighty", she feels able to build distinct relationships with fellow members. And she says if she needs an introduction, there is a line of people at the ready to help make that happen!
Colleen says that Covid-19 has also allowed her to further her education though SITE’s many webinars and discussions. She has also found the time to sit the CITP exam, which thanks to her membership, she took at an amazing discount rate. Like many, she has realized some hidden talents and has taken her knowledge about LinkedIn to help others enhance their profiles and better their engagement on the platform.
Colleen urges all members to get involved… to “step in and step up”. She says you shouldn’t wait to be asked, but to volunteer yourself and make things happen. With any sort of association involvement, you get out of it what you put in - so be engaged. Connect on social media. Don't just scroll through a post - make a comment, provide your insights and thoughts. Share information. Volunteer to contribute your expertise. Attend your local Chapter events or participate in Chapter events in the region you do business in. Get on a committee at the Chapter level or step up to be a leader at the Chapter level.
She also encourages us to think of SITE beyond education and networking, stating that there are also huge opportunities for professional growth and development. Need more experience with public speaking? Volunteer with SITE. Want to understand Marketing, Communications or Event Planning? Volunteer with SITE. Want to learn how to manage other people or a team? Volunteer with SITE. Research shows that LinkedIn profiles with Volunteer Experience gets X6 times more views than those that don't. And, 41% of Hiring Managers view volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience.
For Colleen, SITE is a community built on trust, collaboration and sincere focus on elevating and celebrating each other. She believes this is quite unique to this association and something that you can really quantify. To those who aren't working right now and debating about waiting to continue their membership, she says think about FOMO and the fear of missing out. Missing out on quality education, membership benefits like the discounted CITP exam and most importantly, the relationships and staying top of mind. All indications are saying that when things come back around, it's going to be fast & furious with pent up demand. Staying connected and engaged through SITE will definitely give you an advantage over those that haven't.