25 Professionals Share Their Best Career Advice

Samme Allen

Photo: eVenues Blog

The workplace is constantly changing and to make sure you’re on your way down the preferred career path, it’s a good idea to take the advice of success stories that came before you. If someone’s already been where you are, and telling you the best shortcuts to take, why not listen? 

Our friends over at eVenues blog compiled some of the best career advice from meetings and events industry leaders, which they shared with us. 


Doreen Ashton Wagner, Managing Director at Greenfield Services

'Be CLEAR on what YOU want. Some of it is regular stuff: salary, the hours, how much travel, how much advancement potential. But also less obvious stuff: how much autonomy to make decisions, what motivates you to get up everyday, what kind of people you like to work with, what you're NOT WILLING to compromise.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Dawn Penfold, President at Meetingjobs

'Everyone tells you that you should do what you love. Sounds good in a blog or on a poster. It isn't necessarily realistic or possible. Enjoying your work, being valued in your industry and community, and making money makes sense. Bottom line, keep a realistic outlook on your career.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Randall Whatley, President at Cypress Media Group

'At first you will be the youngest person in the room and think you are much smarter than the old ones. At the end you will be the oldest person in the room and think you are much smarter than the young ones. If you do this, you will have been wrong both times.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Michelle Bergstein Fontanez, Marketing Maven Event Industry Marketing by BeatCreative

'Stick with what you do best and become a master at it and never over-promise. Your stellar work can act as the over promise without mention. The pitfalls of over promising is most likely you will under deliver, not intentionally, but because you promised more. You can't control the unexpected and the unexpected usually happens when you over promise.

Be clear, upfront and honest in your communication. If you can't meet a deadline communicate that. Accountability goes a long way! Life happens and its best to admit fault, we are all human, better to be approachable and real about any situation, no matter how much you may fear that phone call, or conversation, the burden that gets lifted alleviates so much stress you wouldn't believe! You'll thank me later!'

Source: eVenues Blog

Keith Johnston, Event Consultant at Plannerwire

'Work harder than everyone under you or above you. Nothing commands respect more than a good work ethic. This means being the first one at the event in the morning and the last one to leave in the evening. No one said this gig was easy.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Dennis Shiao, Director of Product Marketing at INXPO

'Stay current and have empathy. Staying current often relates to technology, but in a broader sense, is all about keeping tabs on innovations and trends in the meetings and events space. These days, that includes social media, mobile, sustainability and much more. Regarding empathy, be sure to attend a healthy number of meetings and events throughout the year. It's the only way you can truly understand the attendee experience.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Liz Lathan, Event Marketing Director at Dell

'Understand the basics of the business around you & always be curious about it. It's important to be an expert in your field, but also important to have a broad understanding of your company, marketing (in general), and how sales works at your company. If you manage lead-generation events, understanding what margins your company gets on sales helps you calculate the necessary pipeline that your events need to generate for positive ROI.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Corbin Ball, Owner at Corbin Ball Associates

'The best career advice I can offer is to join and get involved in a local chapter of one of the several meeting industry associations available. However, it is not a simple as just sending in your membership fee. 80% of the volunteer work is done by 20% of the members. If you get active in your chapter (and there are always plenty of jobs needing filled), you are working with this top 20% -- the movers of the organisation.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Donna Kastner, Director of Education and Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

'Aim higher. Dream bigger. Think about WHY people attend meetings and events. They want to experience something new and meaningful. Something that helps them address their critical issues faster/better. Something they'd never find anywhere else. Lift your vision from meeting planner to business results driver. Leverage smart technologies to accelerate the value curve whenever possible.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Shawna Suckow, Founder and President of the Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN)

Kyle Hillman, MPI Board Member, Co-Chair of MPI Chicago TechCon 2013

'You have to always keep learning. What was once delegated to the role of a consultant is knowledge that sets you apart. '

Source: eVenues Blog

Jessica Levin, President at Seven Degrees Communications

'If I could talk to my 21 year old self, I would tell her to make sure that she worked (or volunteered) in a variety of settings so that she knew what type of job(s) she would enjoy and what she wouldn't. I would make sure asked a lot of questions and network with people who were smarter and more experienced than her. I would tell myself that there will be people who will try to hold me back, but even more who are willing to help me succeed.'

'I would also tell her to dress for the part she wants, not the part she has. I would encourage her to challenge the norm, once she had an understanding what the norm was.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Michelle Bruno, President at Bruno Group Signature Events and Head Thinker at Fork in the Road

'Build your own brand whether you are self-employed or not so that your (excellent) reputation can always precede you in any job or project. Use social media channels to demonstrate your thought leadership or unique perspective.'

'Take criticism or 'feedback' for what it is: a gift given to you to make you better at what you do. Don't concern yourself with the person or the method of delivery. Instead, glean out the teachable nuggets and move on.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Samme Allen, Head of Sales at Business Events at Barbican Centre and President, MPI UK & Ireland Chapter.

'As an 'ex' recruiter, offering career advice is something that I've been fortunate to do for the last six or seven years and taking my own career advice as helped me develop my career in the meetings and events industry:

1. Ensure you have a clear concise CV outlining not only the day to day responsibilities of your previous jobs but most importantly, your achievements whilst completing these duties. Employers want to see success and this is the first opportunity to highlight your skills.

2. Network. The old cliché of 'who you know, rather than what you know' exists. Peer recommendation is often the biggest recruiting tool so join associations such as MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and go and meet people who not only may employ you or recommend you but they will also be your support and offer advice during your career.

3) Don't blanket send your CV to all and sundry. It's a personal thing getting a job and you would not want to be treated the same way.

4) Remember to enjoy the interview and really ensure that you have asked the questions and determine whether the role is right for you. If, at interview, you feel this is the case, TELL THE INTERVIEWER! Many people don't express their enthusiasm due to nerves etc and often get passed on.

5) Social media/MPI career connections. Ensure your linked in profile is up to date, you have recommendations for each role on linked in and that the link to your profile is on your CV.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Mitchell Beer, President at the Conference Publishers

'Take a wide view, and be curious! That's the starting point if you want to advance in your organisation, differentiate yourself in a crowded job market, and anticipate the trends, issues, and challenges that will continue to reshape the industry.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Tahira Endean, Director of Creative and Production at Cantrav

'Be open to learning and you will grow every day. Think of every event as if you were the guest - would you enjoy it? You simply cannot do an event alone, surround yourself with people who are smarter and more savvy than you and make them want to be part of your team. Be courteous, kind and respectful of and to others - there will be many challenges on the road to awesome events. Remember 'all of us' are smarter than 'any of us'!'

Source: eVenues Blog

Mariela McIlwraith, President at Meeting Change

'My advice for everyone in the industry is to find a mentor and to be a mentor. You'll learn a great deal from both of these experiences, and make sure to leverage these roles for networking. Ask your mentor for introductions, and introduce the person that you're mentoring to others -- both will increase your visibility in the industry.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Jenise Fryatt, Co-Owner and Director of Icon Presentations

'Use social media to find and make friends with many people who share your interests. Don't worry about whether or not you think they can benefit you. Just try to help people and be consistent. Within two or three years, many of those relationships will benefit and/or open doors for you in ways you never dreamed of.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Judy Kucharuk, Owner at Footprint Management Systems

'Never stop learning. By leaving yourself open to new ideas, you will be a more valuable team player and more creative: great ideas breed even greater ideas!'

Source: eVenues Blog

Christine Shimasaki, Managing Director of EmpowerMINT.com

'Someone once shared with me: 'Opportunities never die, they just pass on to someone else' and this saying always reminded me to be open to what came next…even when my brain was telling me it didn't look like an opportunity! And as I mature, I have recognised there are in fact an abundance of opportunities (some which I can see and many which I can't). The way I gain access to those opportunities (visible or not) is to be in a practice or constant learning about myself and being mindful of the choices I make every day.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Amy Spatrisano, Principal at MeetGreen

'I love that our industry is in essence a playground for manifesting ways to bring people together. Be bold enough to take chances in designing fresh, innovative ways to connect people through meetings even when others may be sceptical of your ideas or approach.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability at MeetGreen

'Take time to be present, listen and empathise. I was given the advice during my first summer internship when I was working a job that involved a lot of customer and membership services. It's something that has stayed with me ever since and been key in every position I've ever held. I think it's even more important now information moves so fast and expectations only continue to increase. It's hard to pause and present. And it takes extra time to understand others' perspectives and create collaborative solutions. But when you can the results are so rewarding.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Liz King, CEO and Chief Event Specialist at Liz King Events

'PUSH THE ENVELOPE. Every time you learn about an aspect of our industry, look for the challenges. What does not work as it should? By constantly innovating, you will put yourself ahead of the others entering the industry at the same time as you. Don't just learn how everyone does things, but figure out how you can put your stamp on it and make it better!'

Source: eVenues Blog

Jeff Hurt, Executive VP, Education & Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

'Don't be bland! Stand out. Be different. Offer contrast in this world of status-quo, cookie-cutter camo sameness.'

Source: eVenues Blog

Hugh Robertson, Founder and CEO at RPM Marketing Agency

'When it comes to business leadership, there is nothing more valuable than a supportive network of genuine friendships based on trust, respect and authenticity. This close community is not something that can be substituted or bought. In a close-knit industry, the value of transparency and authenticity has never been higher. It is what wins new business, creates market leadership and respect amongst your peers. To remain an authentic leader, it is important to 'say & do' and truly champion your vision with conviction.'

Source: eVenues Blog

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