This Week’s Chapter Member Tip For How To Be A More Effective Meeting Planner
“It’s all about relationships!” says Wendy M. Harms, Administrative Director, Kansas Livestock Association in Topeka, KS. “Sounds obvious, I know, but there is so much more to the word. If you know me, it is the connection and interaction with others which keeps me thriving. Meeting planning was not my chosen career path, it chose me over 22 years ago. I attribute that to the relationships I developed and of course maybe my obsession of details and organization.”
“While most people would consider me outgoing, says Wendy “I must admit there are and have been times, where I find myself standing in a meeting room or at a social event, very timid, sheepishly hiding, trying to fly under the radar, but it takes courage deep within myself to step out.
“This world is filled with unique people with wonderful stories and experiences to share. If we take the time to listen, learn and value them, we will not only learn, but also we grow as an individual. It is important to connect and engage with people no matter who they are.
“In the meeting planning world, you need to have good working relationships with everyone. Your co-workers, as you are all working towards the same goal; member satisfaction. You need to have open and honest communication with your hotel/vendor contacts because they walk alongside you to ensure everything is perfect for your meeting. They want the repeat business, and yes, maybe the dollars but ultimately; it is the longevity of the relationship which matters most.
“Relationships with members is key, for engagement and involvement. Finally, equally important (or in my opinion the most) is the relationships with people you may never do business with or think you will cross paths with again. They too have taken the courageous step to put themselves out there and get to know you. You never know when you are going to need each other. I rely on these relationships to help me when I am traveling to a new city and want to know the ins and outs of the area. I may be able to score a discounted room rate for vacation or a contact for another meeting I am organizing. I can share them as a future lead for another group, or they can reach out when they hear another group similar to ours is interested in their property. The possibilities are endless.
“Let me provide an example, my association holds all of our meetings in the state and our annual meeting is the same who, what, when and where every year. But because I have taken the time to get to know hotel contacts/vendors at meetings, trade shows, industry events; I can say I have “friends.” These relationships have not just benefited me professionally but also personally. I have been to weddings, fitness classes, art classes, drinks and other social events outside of work, with these people. “So, take the courageous step to put yourself out there! I promise you; you will not be disappointed when you ‘open your shell.'”