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Peer-to-Peer Connections Matter for Career Advancement

When meeting professionals gather and commiserate, the perspective and wisdom in the room is priceless. Are you putting yourself out there?

After covering the meetings industry for 32 years, one of the few things I know for sure about this business is that nobody would hire me to be a meeting planner.

The hyper-granular attention to detail required to negotiate and contract the various parts of an event, and then manage the ever-changing tactical and strategic elements leading up to the opening session, is beyond my capabilities. My mind simply does not work that way, and I am truly impressed by those who can do all those things and produce a satisfying experience for attendees and other stakeholders.

Here is another thing I know for sure: Being around planners during industry events exposes me to others’ professional experiences and ideas in a way that’s impossible to replicate by any other means. Through both deliberate and coincidental encounters, I learn so much about the challenges (event-related and otherwise) faced by planners, along with their creative solutions. This makes me much better at my work than if I only communicated with planners through email, over the phone, or even in online chat forums.

The reason I’m waxing on about in-person experiences is that each of the four executive women I interviewed for our latest issue’s cover story said that very same thing. (Read the story in our digital magazine now, or read it online at as of Monday, March 11.)

While formal education in meeting planning, financial skills, and leadership is vital for planners with greater ambitions, the connections with peers and mentors are what provided the perspective and wisdom that all four women needed to advance to management positions.

In addition, at the recent Convening Leaders conference hosted by the Professional Convention Management Association, CEO Sherrif Karamat told the nearly 3,000 planners in attendance that one of the most effective things they could do while there was to introduce themselves to at least five fellow practitioners each day and have a brief conversation about their work. This way, planners would hear about experiences not only from those who have responsibilities similar to them, but also from colleagues who have elevated responsibilities.

In short, planners don’t know what they don’t know until they are exposed to it—and then they become that much smarter. So, are you willing to ask your boss for opportunities to attend industry events? And will you make the most of those opportunities once you’re there?

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