Whether you’re planning big conventions, small conferences, or other meetings and events for your company, event planning is an enormous responsibility. Once you get into a groove with event planning, it becomes easier. However, the trends and best practices of event and meeting planning evolve constantly. This is why it’s important to keep your skills and knowledge base up-to-date so your meetings and events don’t go stale, lose participant interest, or disintegrate completely.
Here are three strategies you can employ to boost your event and meeting planning skills.
1. Read Magazines, Websites, and Blogs
Reading industry publications and websites is a great, low cost way to keep yourself current on the latest trends in the event planning industry. I receive the following magazines absolutely free in print, and they are also available online.
- Meetings and Conventions: Meetings-Conventions.com
- Successful Meetings: SuccessfulMeetings.com
- Smart Meetings: SmartMeetings.com
- Incentive Magazine: IncentiveMag.com
Pro Tip: When you see a great article in a print publication, try to find it online and share the link on your social media sites so others can benefit from it.
2. Attend Conferences, Professional Association Events, and Meetings
Attending industry conferences is another fantastic way to educate yourself, as well as build and develop a strong network of resources to help you plan your next event. While some conferences may have travel fees associated with them, others offer free registration for meeting and event planners (even if it’s not your full-time role).
Investigate what’s available and see if you can incorporate an event-planning conference into your annual performance plan.
- Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
- MPI World Education Congress
- Professional Convention Management Association Education Conference
- The Meetings Show
- The Event Planner Expo
You may also benefit from joining a professional association specifically for meeting planners, such as Meeting Professionals International. Monthly or quarterly events held by regional chapters is another great way to learn more while developing your network of professional meeting-planning resources.
When you attend meetings, take note of what you liked about the room configuration, handout assembly, presentation equipment, etc. By observing how others are conducting their meetings, you can implement some of their strategies or modify them to make them even better.
Pro Tip: If you belong to a professional association, you can learn more about event and meeting planning by joining their program committee or special events committee. There’s nothing like hands-on experience to fast track your meeting-planning skills!
Certification programs are another excellent way to immerse yourself in the meeting and event planning profession. There are several online courses and programs you can investigate, but two of the industry standards are the Certified Meeting Professional and the Certificate in Meeting Management. They both require preparation and training to take the exam for certification, but the things you’ll learn as you prepare will serve you for years to come.
Pro Tip: Find a friend to pursue a certification with you so you have a study buddy and accountability partner. It can make the entire process more fun and productive for both of you!
If you’re new to event and meeting planning, don’t let all the details and options associated with event planning scare you off or overwhelm you. Commit to advancing your skills and exposing yourself to as many resources and educational opportunities as possible. Find places, such as professional associations or community organizations, where you can volunteer to assist with event planning to gain more competence in this area. When you do this, event and meeting planning will become something you not only enjoy but look forward to doing.
If you’re a seasoned event and meeting planner already, challenge yourself to find new ideas and best practices to incorporate into each event to keep them fresh and inviting. Sometimes the smallest details make the biggest difference and can set the tone for an entire room of people.
© 2018 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.