In our June 2013 issue, Convene talked to more than a dozen experts, from within the industry and without, about the skills that will best equip meeting planners for the future. This insight and advice from marketing and brand consultant Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, bears repeating:
What skills should meeting planners have or acquire to continue to meet challenges in the future?
In many ways, the skill set of the future is actually about broadening yourself. Every meeting planner, of course, needs to have a basic understanding of the trends in their industry; that goes without saying.
But the real value-add is for professionals who have a great breadth of knowledge and expertise. It’s not just about grasping your industry, but broader trends in society, because the future is about making connections across industries. It’s about innovating and discovering what is useful in one context that may become useful in a new context. And if you can bring people together and if you can highlight those ideas, then that’s something that people will clamor for.
What does it mean to develop your brand?
It’s knowing what your skills are and what’s different about you, whether it’s a skill set you’re really good at, or experiences that you’ve had. Maybe you worked in a different industry and bring that knowledge to bear. Maybe you had specialized training in some way. Or it could even just be a question of temperament — that you’re extremely even-keeled in times of crisis. But if you’re aware of what you can do that other people may not be able to do as well as you can, that’s your competitive advantage.
How do you communicate your brand?
You need to ensure that the people who need to know — your employer or, if you’re job hunting, your prospective employers — know what it is that you’re capable of. And you can do that in a couple of ways.
One is by building a robust social-media presence, so maybe you have an industry blog that shows that you’re up on what’s going on in the field and have a lot of good ideas about it. It could be taking leadership roles in the profession. Maybe you’re chairing committees or organizing specific events, or things like that.
And yet another is to build a fan base in some way. You can reach out to like-minded friends and colleagues and essentially turn them into wingmen for you. You can make an agreement that you will talk each other up and try informally to promote each other where possible.
For more advice on how to plan for and manage your brilliant career, go here.