What is the best thing about what we do in the meetings and events industry?
Is it picking food and beverage selections? Fun, but no, not really.
Is it about coordinating all the AV and tech for production of the program? Some people are very passionate about this, but I think there’s something more satisfying.
It’s about the community we foster. We create community for a living. Meeting planners, partners, and suppliers – we all come together to create in-person, virtual, and hybrid communities for our clients and their industries.
We bring people together; it’s the tagline of one of our industry’s largest professional associations.
We are the biggest proponents of community, it’s why we do what we do.
As proponents of community, we’ve also been great at creating community for our own industry professionals. But what happens when that community has fractured and split the way our industry has in the past two years? Our own community has been stretched, and many of us long to find a “home” again.
Many in our industry changed their career over the past two years. They thankfully stayed within meetings, events, and hospitality, but they need counsel and mentoring now more than ever as their job descriptions and day-to-day operations have changed.
There are also those that stayed in their current positions, struggling to keep up with the workload as they watched many of their peers walk out the door. These industry warriors burned the midnight oil while some of their colleagues were granted paid leave. These strong individuals need community too! They have endured both physical and mental challenges, all to help keep our industry afloat.
Then there are those that have joined the meetings and events industry for the very first time. Welcome new friends! You have likely joined us from another industry, or perhaps you’re fresh out of college or university. There’s lots to learn including the industry lingo, the relationships, and the trends that move us forward.
All of these audiences need community now more than ever. Whether for our mental well-being, or just to stay on top of all the changing trends and practices, we need mentorship, peer support groups, and a sense of belonging to get us through this next chapter.
Whatever communities we had built before, it may be time for us to rethink our own meetings and events communities, so they meet the diverse needs of the individual.
Thankfully, our industry is full of problem solvers and solution-seekers. I’ve seen great work being done in looking at community differently so that there is something for everyone in our rebuilt space.
Memberships – Communities in a paid membership are on the rise, providing safe and exclusive spaces for those to share and learn together. Some memberships, such as Meeting Professionals International, are putting more emphasis on small communities structure – these micro-communities are different than the local chapters, with a focus on a shared value, beliefs, job title, or area of interest.
Apps and platforms – Apps like WhatsApp, Slack, Braindate, and Twine allow us to create micro-community conversations within larger networks. Some have a formal agenda, some use the communities to bounce ideas and support one another when needed. I belong to around five different WhatsApp communities, which all serve a different purpose and we support and share with one another daily.
Social audio – 2021 saw the rise of social audio platforms like Clubhouse, LinkedIn Audio, Green Room and Twitter Spaces. These community centres are really great places to find like-minded individuals and allow for organic conversations and feedback. Many of the relationships I have started in a social audio room, and after exploring our like-mindedness, we’re in micro-communities that have branched off of the main room
When in-person communities disappeared, we all found different ways to connect with one another. I think communities and micro-communities are only going to get stronger in the months and years to come. I know I’m always looking to either create or join a new community – I need that support system, we all do.
Whatever your need, there is a community that can serve you; you just need to know where to look. Are you looking for community? Need some help finding a place to call home? I’m only an email away, how can I help?
Leanne Calderwood, CMP, is a personal branding and LinkedIn trainer for the meetings, events, and hospitality industry. She believes our industry is built on experiences, and that experience should start with our professionals.
She serves hospitality professionals and teams through her online courses and consulting services to help guide #eventprofs out of the shadows and into the spotlight using their branding strengths and stories.
When she’s not talking shop, you can find Leanne drinking tea, making jam, and gardening at her home in Kelowna, B.C. with her husband, two teenage sons, and her dog, Farls Barkley.
You can learn more about Leanne over on her blog at www.leannecalderwood.com