As we start the new year, let’s take a moment to make sure it will be a great one. By making a few resolutions and taking these simple steps, meeting planners can be sure 2017 will be a great year for fabulous events and stellar career progression.
1. Learn something new
For meeting and event planners, continuous learning is simply a part of the job. Not only are planners expected to complete continuing education credits and certifications, but they must also keep up with the industry’s latest trends and newest technologies. Being able to pinpoint what’s popular among attendees or navigate cutting-edge event management software makes meetings easier to plan and more engaging for guests.
Learning new skills can often be challenging and confusing; it is almost always easier to stay in your comfort zone and continue using tried and true methods. But in this fast-paced industry, strategies and ideas that worked well yesterday may not be as effective tomorrow.
In 2017, do yourself a favor by making learning a priority. Read books about meeting planning and career advice, subscribe to e-newsletters and listen to free podcasts for planners. Take a few minutes to enroll in free event planning webinars that can teach you the finer points of contract negotiation, event technology and more.
We know it can be hard to let go—to trust employees and colleagues with crucial aspects of your event. But planning an event requires so much attention to detail (and so many details!) that in most cases it’s impossible to do everything yourself—and do it well.
You’ve got a great team backing you up, so let them show you what they can do. Delegate some of your many planning tasks, while leaving the most crucial decision-making responsibilities on your plate.
At first, your employees may struggle with learning new tasks and facing unforeseen challenges, but you should fight the urge to jump in and take over. As they learn from their mistakes, they’ll become better planners, feel a sense of accomplishment and become even more valuable team members.
3. Try something different
In the meetings and events industry, it’s all about what’s new. Groups love trying new things, so successful planners must always keep their pulse on the latest industry trends. Virtual reality, live video, data-powered event analytics, flexible indoor-outdoor event spaces and experimental food and beverage options are all trends that planners should keep an eye on.
Don’t plan meetings that feel like every meeting that’s come before. This year, make it your goal to hold a meeting attendees will remember. Try breaking out of the boardroom, holding a unique offsite or planning an unconference-style agenda. Keeping things fresh and trying something different will help get attendees engaged and excited about your events.
4. Network smarter
Take your career to the next level by taking every opportunity to network. Make valuable connections by joining your local chapter of PCMA, attending the nearest trade shows and taking advantage of hosted buyer events such as Smart Meetings’ own Smart Events. You might do some great business, make new friends and rub elbows with industry influencers.
In addition to making connections in person, keep your social network profiles updated and optimized, especially for professional networks such as LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn photo should be clear and recent. Your profile should mention industry keywords to make it easier for recruiters to find you.
5. Strive for work-life balance
Corporate meeting planners have notoriously stressful jobs with long hours and travel. Although a successful event or praise from your company’s executives can make all the stress worth it, dealing with angry attendees and disagreeable vendors can wear down any event professional.
Don’t let yourself get burned out from a career you love. This year, try to do everything you can to achieve work-life balance. Squeeze in some time for exercise during trips, find a place to meditate while on the road, and make some time for yourself. Taking breaks throughout the workday can be a big help, as studies indicate that the most productive employees take regular breaks. There are many strategies planners can use to find that elusive balance.