Ask a seasoned meeting planner what they would recommend you do to further your career and, more often than not, they will tell you to network. Networking is a great way to meet industry leaders as well as to keep on top of the latest and greatest event planning trends. Think of it like organic growth. You won’t necessarily start to see the results of your efforts until you have attended several networking events. But, by becoming a member of a meeting planner association, what you are doing is establishing a long lasting reputation for yourself as a meeting or event planner.
For a Meeting Planner, Establishing a Relationship with a Potential Client Is Key
Let’s face it, obtaining customers is a never-ending task. Most of us do not like cold calling. While sometimes necessary, cold calling can be deflating. How many times have you been trying to get contact information when it was obvious that the person on the other line could not wait to get off the phone?
The key for attracting a new customer, or to retain current customers, is integrity. A potential customer wants to know that the event planner has their best interest in mind. So how do you inform a potential customer that they would be in good hands working with you? Well, again, it boils down to establishing a relationship. And by attending an event planner association’s function you’ll be introduced to many colleagues as well as potential clients. But be careful, the last thing you want to do at these events is to jump into a sales pitch. Wait for the client to ask you for that information. Otherwise, you should be discussing common interest items. Not only will you be nurturing relationships with potential clients but you’re also going to gain valuable industry information from your peers.
Related article: Networking Is a Big Part of Event Planning-But Is It Done Right?
An Event Planners Association Is a Great Place to Start Networking
When I first started in the meetings and events industry, I was part of a young, upstart, DMC (Destination Management Company). What I and my partners quickly learned was that we needed to join industry associations so that we would start to be recognized.
The first association was our local CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau). Being a member of your local CVB is crucial. Not only will you be listed as an event supplier, you will also get great exposure to meeting planners that are bringing groups to your city. Next we joined two of the industry’s largest associations; Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). We also joined the Association of Destination Management Executives (ADME). ADME is great for developing and standardizing codes of conduct, contract language, best practices, etc.
Most meeting planner associations also have local chapters. This is a great way to meet all of the key industry players in your area as well as to have an active role in the local management of the association.
A meeting planner association is a great way to develop new contacts and learn key industry information from your colleagues. Many customers prefer to select their event planning companies once they have developed a relationship. In other words, Integrity is crucial for repeat business.