Nothing in business remains static for long. At times it seems impossible to keep up with all the changes. There are always new products, services and innovations to learn in order to maintain a competitive edge. But to stay relevant in any industry, continuing education is mandatory—and that seems to go double for event planners. For many, though, the idea of piling more obligations onto an already overloaded plate might make one want to leave the party altogether.
“In today’s economy, you have to (and should want to) be a lifelong learner because that’s the only way you are going to stay relevant to the marketplace,” according to Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace and author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.
“You have to acquire new skills and stay on top of industry trends so that you can advance,” Schawbel says. “If you don’t, then you can easily be replaced by someone who is taking the initiative.”
In just the past few years we have seen the meteoric rise of social media for marketing. Security and emergency protocols have been evolving rapidly due to real-world current events. And still attention must be paid to dietary trends, new ways to engage and the latest team-building fad. Even our vocabulary is changing faster than we realize: tweet, selfie, OMG. How do we learn it all?
There is no reason to fear the thought of “learning more stuff.” Figure out where you could use some improvement or what you are most interested in and go from there. When I was young and faced an especially challenging task, my father would ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “One bite at a time.” Don’t become overwhelmed. Spending even a few dedicated hours a month will help keep you in the information loop.
Whether you are just starting out in the industry and have much to learn, or you have been in the game for years and need to hone your skills, there are many resources readily available for those willing to learn. Some require an investment of time and/or money, while others are complimentary and take just a few moments. Advanced education keeps you sharp and increases your marketability.
Resources for Staying Relevant in Your Industry
Blogs and industry magazines are often complimentary. Digital magazines are a convenient source of new ideas and tips of the trade. A quick search can bring up articles on any number of topics.
Online Learning: Having trouble really getting the gist of something? There are great tutorials available for free. Learn how to do practically anything from advanced math to Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. The Kahn Academy offers free lectures in the form of Youtube videos.
Join an Association: Most memberships in an association come with an annual fee; however, the benefits of joining an association can quickly pay for themselves. Many industry associations offer direct opportunities for advanced education, access to an enormous amount of resources, certification programs, networking opportunities and special access to conferences. Participating in association-sponsored forums and chat groups is a great way to share ideas and ask advice from peers, as well as continue to grow your network.
Conferences: Association members often get discounted rates to attend annual conferences. Attendees are treated to the first glimpse of new products as well as a chance to meet with industry pros and get advice from keynote speakers. These are also excellent opportunities to network.
Making an investment in your education is making an investment in your future. It can be rewarding and exciting and will always be worth the time. Just reading this article shows you care! Keep it up!
For more information on joining an association, and how you can reap the benefits, contact Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the world’s largest association of meeting and event industry professionals.
Featured photo (CC) Kevin Dooley