PCMA, MPI, ASAE, ISES … random letters, right? Not if you’re in the events industry. These letters — associations — are worth exploring if you want to get more involved in the industry. And they’re just the beginning.
Why become involved outside of your 9-to-5 responsibilities, you might ask? What is the ROI? The point? In eight years in the industry, I’ve found that the times I’m most involved are the most fulfilling. Meeting colleagues, building relationships, learning trends and new tools enable planners to excel personally and professionally. Here are a few examples.
The industry is crawling with outgoing people who enjoy thriving and having fun. Why wouldn’t you want to meet them, even on just a personal level? I’ve made some of my closest friends at industry events.
Think about it. Networking can help education. If you want to sit for your CMP certification, for example, and a friend already has, s/he may be willing to help you study. It also helps to get your name out. Who knows when you’ll be looking for your next position?
If you make a great vendor relationship, this person may teach you more than another vendor would about a product. A vendor buddy may go the extra mile to ensure event success in expedition and other areas (budget, for example). You and your organization benefit, but the vendor does too.
The first time I worked with a specific vendor (whom I met at an association event), my boss was floored by how amazing the service was and how reasonable the costs were. The vendor was delighted to work with a new client likely to bring in future business.
It’s hard to grow your events and raise the bar for attendees and your organization if you aren’t up on trends and technology. Educational programs let you and your organization stay ahead of the curve.
I recently attended a program on social media, specifically LinkedIn, and why it’s important to have an account and make sure it’s up to date. Using tech tools like these also make it easier to move on when the time comes. Tools also are available to enhance your events and make your job easier and more efficient, while making your attendees’ experience more lasting.
At IMEX a few years ago, I learned how to create my own event app. My organization isn’t there yet, but I imagine the possibilities for the future. Associations constantly offer educational programs for their members.
Becoming a CMP
Many planners strive for this. In order to be qualified to take the exam, you must meet a number of criteria (details on the Convention Industry Council (CIC) website). A few of the basic requirements:
- You must be currently or recently employed in the industry.
- You have completed 25 “clock hours” of continuing education within the industry.
How do you make association memberships work for you, or not? Please join the conversation in the comment section below.