As we come to the end of the year, it’s important that we position ourselves for a successful 2020. One important step is to consider the many industry networks that can help propel our careers forward.
I have been a volunteer leader for the majority of my career: first with Meeting Professionals International on international committees, then three years on its International Board of Directors, where I met some of my closest industry friends. I was lucky enough to get involved with the Global Business Travel Association’s meetings committee a few years ago, and I am also on the Events Industry Council’s industry insights committee. Granted, I might be a bit over the top in my volunteerism, but the effort has allowed me to develop strong relationships with many colleagues, drive thought leadership in our industry, and be knowledgeable about emerging industry trends. And all of that has been beneficial to my career.
If you are not actively involved with any industry networks, I suggest taking a close look at each industry association and join one that makes the most sense for you. That might mean a group where much of the membership aligns with your current role, or a group that could help you reach future career goals. There is an organization for almost every specialty: Event Marketers, Meeting Professionals, Business Travel Professionals, Hotel marketers and their partners, business event professionals, and Incentive Travel Professionals. Most of these organizations are global, with chapters in many countries.
As you research each organization, dive into a few subgroups of specific interest: What committees could you serve on, and what education is available? Who are the committee leaders and who is serving on the board of directors? The answers can help you evaluate which organization is the best fit for you.
Once you become a member, though, you must do more than simply write a check for the annual dues! I strongly advise that you immediately offer to join a committee; this provides instant community, whereas you might otherwise feel like an outsider for a while. Some committee work is more intense than others, though, so consider your professional bandwidth and try to join a committee that realistically matches your availability.
Here, then, is the call to action: Investigate several industry associations and commit to getting actively involved in a local chapter or on a national committee in 2020. Life has no true guarantees—but I can promise that if you do get involved with an industry group, you’ll quickly reap the benefits of deeper relationships that will make your work life more effective, more interesting, and more fulfilling.