Last month, I spoke to the MPI Philadelphia Area Chapter’s Educational Institute, and one of the recurring themes that I heard during that presentation and in follow-up discussions is that a whole lot of meeting professionals feel stuck in their careers.
Sometimes, there simply isn’t anywhere to go up; other times, BossZilla is standing in the way.
But what I am hearing is a lot of frustration and gnashing of teeth from meeting professionals who want to catapult their careers in the meeting industry.
Never fear! There are some things that you can do now that can shape your future.
Become the best subject matter expert you can be.
Read everything. Go to as many conferences that your work (and personal budget) will allow. Pay attention to upcoming trends or technology just on the horizon. By being a “sponge,” you are absorbing information and concepts that can lead to future applications in your work.
Ask for a promotion.
Sorry, guys. Your egos always enable you to walk right up to the boss and ask for that promotion or raise. Women, on the other hand, second guess themselves constantly, and are much more hesitant to have that conversation about future upward movement within the organization. But no matter who you are, the boss won’t know you are interested until… wait for it… YOU TELL THEM. Don’t ever assume they just know.
Take on the stretch assignment.
The more you can push your comfort zone and limits (within reason, of course), the more you learn and can flex into other positions you might not have considered before.
Understand what the root function of our industry is based upon.
If you want to transition to higher levels, consider a director of operations. You are already a director of operations in managing events or sales from start to finish. Taking a step back and gaining a bigger picture of what your job function actually entails can help you translate this to growth mode within the meeting industry.
Volunteering, as we ALL know, does two things: You get to do something fun and hopefully nice for the organization for which you are volunteering; and it puts you in a role where you are giving back. The secret sauce to being a great leader is being generous and giving back.
Boomerang if you need to.
Step outside of the industry if you simply can’t easily get a skill set…sometimes, that’s what it takes to get that extra edge. I always joke (after being in this industry 15 years now) that meeting professionals never go anywhere—we just play magical chairs.
Propose a new job.
This can be pretty scary. But pssst! Here’s a secret: Employers LOVE it when you can show a strong business case and ROI. So if you see a company need area, and management is moving like molasses in dealing with this gap, why not create your own job description and pencil it out to show that it would be a profit instead of a loss center? Most supervisors’ first reaction when approached by an employee proposing a new job: “How much is this going to cost me?” Show value.
These tips can absolutely light a fire and help catapult your career in the meeting industry.
My final piece of advice if you want to move ahead: Be disciplined. The people who aren’t focused, aren’t driven and aren’t aware of the value that they offer are usually the ones who get passed over.
Now go get ‘em, tiger!