How can we better support event professionals?

baby holding finger - thtstudios - 151079254_5486c264e7How can #eventprofs help guide/mentor those new to the industry? was the topic of a fascinating August 5 #eventprofs chat† (archive), moderated by the “Queen of EIR“, Jenise Fryatt. The chat was noteworthy for its energy around two initiatives that emerged during our hour together:

  • An online resource for answering event industry questions
  • An online resource for matching volunteer mentors and mentees

Responding to the energy, I registered the domain www.eventprofsanswers.com during the chat and set up a skeleton website. As you can read in the archive, many chat participants were enthusiastic about this action, and asked how they could help move these initiatives forward.

Since the chat, I’ve had offline discussions about developing the website. Most correspondents have been positive, though a minority has expressed some reservations.

Here are some of my conclusions and questions arising from the discussion so far:

  • I think it’s important to have the widest possible initial discussion before proceeding further. We need to find out what other #eventprofs think, and hear from professional association members and the associations themselves.
  • I’m not aware of significant attempts to use online technologies to address the two initiatives, other than the ad hoc use of Tweeted questions using the #eventprofs and allied hashtags. Perhaps there are existing resources we’re not aware of?
  • There seems to be evidence that some event professionals, especially perhaps those who entered the industry through non-conventional paths (like me), would appreciate a central online location for posting questions and finding appropriate mentors (either online or face to face). How easy has it been for you to get your events-related questions answered? What has your experience been with the availability of and satisfaction with existing industry mentoring programs?
  • I have already received a number of individual and association chapter offers of support (thank you everyone!) If you would like these initiatives to be implemented in some fashion, what are you willing to contribute to making this happen?
  • Do you have suggestions for additional online initiatives that would address event professionals’ needs?
  • I want to make it clear that I am personally completely open to the process and the organizational structure used to implement these initiatives. Perhaps an online resource would be run by a group of volunteers, perhaps it could become part of an existing professional association’s online presence and services, perhaps it would remain an independent presence that is formally supported by an association’s staff. What do you think?

Lots of questions! I, and I believe the professional events community, would like to know your responses. Either comment below or write me privately if you prefer. I look forward to everyone’s input!

†The #eventprofs chat is held on Twitter each week on Tuesdays 9 – 10 p.m. EST and Thursdays 12 – 1 p.m. EST.

Image attribution: flickr user thtstudios

4 thoughts on “How can we better support event professionals?

  1. Adrian, as you know already I love this idea. I’ve always been one to launch complaints about yet another place to have to go online to get information…but in this case I think a site like this is needed. Here are a few points I have about the project.

    First, yes there are many groups on linked in that address different scopes of the event industry. Some are dedicated to conferences, some to trade shows, some just to exhibitors and narrowing the niche even further. The problem I have with LinkedIn groups is the number of “pitches” that are posted and the lack of true discussion. (Side note…I noticed TSEA Trade Show Exhibitors Association has really done a great job of eliminating these types of posts). That is going to be a real challenge of the Q&A site but one that is easily overcome with good moderation.

    I would love a place I could post questions related to events in general. One central spot is great without having to go to a separate site that deals only with social media questions, or another site that deals with logistics and yet another site that focuses on attendee marketing and then one for exhibitor marketing. Twitter is great but it’s a crap shoot if someone who has the answer sees your question whiz past.

    I also think this gives those wanting to participate more control over their time investment. I would definitely be willing to help out as it seems to me I would not have to be “on call” every moment of the day therefore not hindering my overall productivity. I would be happy to invest an hour or so contributing if I could set aside the time and look thru questions I may have answers to.

    Likewise I would love if I could post a question of my own on there and get the help I needed. Sometimes you need a quick referral or a simple question answered. Actually often times you need this…at least I do.

    Marketing Profs has an interesting Knowledge Base where people can pose questions and participants get points for answering. Redeemable for Marketing Profs webinars, seminars, etc. Perhaps this is a bit too much to take on in the beginning but it is an interesting case study none the less.

    I can see how some vendors might bristle at this idea…too much free advice not enough ROI. I’ve had trouble with this myself but it can also be managed. But I’m sure there are many event professionals out there who are not vendors that would love to pass on some words of wisdom to fellow professionals.

    Sign me up!

    1. Traci, thank you for your comprehensive and positive response to this post! As you probably gathered, I’m in complete agreement with you. There’s no reason why eventprofsanswers.com couldn’t be a one-stop shopping site for answers and support for professionals in the events industry.

      And thank you for offering to be a part of making this service happen.

      Which brings us to the question “where do we go from here?” I have received quite a bit of private support for this approach, but have not heard from any national representatives of the professional associations. Perhaps they are not interested, perhaps they just haven’t read this blog. I think we should reach out to the relevant folks at PCMA, MPI, ISES etc. to check on their level of interest & involvement. If any readers have a personal connection to the right people, please let me know. Otherwise I’d welcome help doing this outreach.

      I’ll keep the skeleton website up and running while we do this research, and will post when I have more to report.

  2. Hi Adrian, Great point and I do believe there are already many resources to get questions asked. While I agree with Traci, it depends on the level of moderation to keep the pitches out. But here are some for consideration:
    * i-Meet – online group for meeting / event professionals and suppliers. Similar to a linkedin for our industry.
    * LinkedIn – the ones where I think they do a good job: Virtual Edge Forum*, Event Planning Professionals, PCMA, and TSNN.
    * Twitter – the various tweetchats out there

    Will there be one place for all of this content? That would be tough to say. Maybe the associations will be a great place to begin as the majority of folks will be congregated there.

    Cece

    * – I selfishly am a group manager with Virtual Edge and have to tried to keep the riff raff out and am starting to manage two groups for my company, with the goal to make it more useful versus spammy.

    1. Thanks, Ceci for your thoughts on these issues. I am increasingly skeptical of the likelihood that there will ever be “one place” for these questions and answers. Even Google has its Bing, and the event industry is so large, multifaceted, and fragmented. I think we are moving rapidly towards David Weinberger’s “Too Big To Know” world but without (yet) good tools to organize the growing knowledge, resources, and needs we have. Quora is a praiseworthy attempt to create a framework for what we are striving for, but it is still struggling to obtain the critical mass a successful system needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *