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by By Robyn M. Mietkiewicz, CMP | December 01, 2010
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Meeting Professionals International
mpiweb.org/About/
Leadership/VolunteerCenter

National Business Travel Association
www2.nbta.org/about/Pages
/Committees.aspx

Professional Convention Management Association
pcma.org/about/governance
/committees_and_task_forces.htm

Contact: Stacey Shafer (312) 423-7215 sshafer@pcma.org

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Many of us have the best intentions of getting more involved in our industry, whether participating on a committee, task force or advisory council, but we never find the time. We keep telling ourselves that maybe we'll do it "after things slow down." Well, here is a big news flash: Life will never slow down, and the time to act is now. It's all about effective time management and using your industry volunteerism to build your own brand.

When I first started in the meetings world, I did not realize how many opportunities were available, nor did I grasp the magnitude of our industry. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the meetings/events component of business travel is responsible for nearly 15 percent of all travel in the United States, generates one million jobs, drives $101 billion in spending, and creates $16 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local levels. Those are pretty impressive statistics.

Thankfully, I had mentors who encouraged me to get involved with Meeting Professionals International, and as I discovered, there are many opportunities to volunteer on a committee that will allow your strengths to shine, or you can participate in an area in which you have had little experience so you can develop new skill sets to foster career growth.

It's best to begin in a small capacity so you get a chance to learn the ropes. Once you become more comfortable, you can evaluate more demanding organizational needs and your specific interests.

Being an industry volunteer can provide an array of networking opportunities to accelerate your career path. For example, you can develop meaningful business as well as personal relationships with others serving on the same committee or in the same chapter.

Other benefits to industry volunteerism include:
• Enhancing your visibility and your brand;
• Developing stronger management/leadership skills;
• Discovering business opportunities for you and your organization;
• Participating on panel discussions and being viewed as an industry leader;
• Getting published in industry trade publications, and
• Helping earn industry certifications (CMP, CMM, etc.).

Surrounding yourself with people who have the same passion as you do is a powerful motivator. I know that MPI has been the cornerstone of many of my successes. Today I have the honor of serving as president of the organization's Orange County (Calif.) chapter, speaking at many industry events and collaborating with industry leaders.

Ultimately, volunteerism can have a huge impact on your career. Along with everything else, it's a great addition to your résumé, as it shows that you have taken the initiative to excel. Any way you look at it, getting involved brings great ROI. 

Robyn M. Mietkiewicz, CMP, is director, accounts and global meeting management services, at Meeting Sites Resource, a global specialist in meeting site research and hotel/contract negotiations.