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by Robyn Mietkiewicz, CMP, CMM | July 01, 2012
FYI

In addition to the application fee ($75 for MPI members; $125 for nonmembers) and $1,800 for the CMM course, consider travel and  hotel expenses. You might need to budget another $2,000, depending on where the course is held.

To help cover your costs, you can apply for an MPI Foundation scholarship at mpiweb.org/Foundation/GrantApplication.

Think about your business plan topic before arriving for the course, as topics are approved on-site. You'll be too busy during the educational  program to effectively conceptualize a business idea.

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As a meeting profes­sional who recent­ly earned the Certi­fication in Meeting Management (CMM), I want to share some insights and lessons learned with other industry professionals who are considering the program.

While working toward the CMM is a big commitment, it is a powerful learning experience with many great takeaways that will impact both your organization and your career. Following are my best practices and tips for successfully acing the CMM program.

Signing Up The CMM program is available to management-level meeting professionals with a minimum of 10 years experience in the industry. The process has several parts: the application; pre-course work (including a group project) and reading; five and a half days of on-site classes and sessions; a written exam; and, finally, candidates must create a business plan.

To find out when and where the program will next be offered, go to mpiweb.org/Education/CMM/Schedule. Complete and submit your application (with a fee of $75 for members of Meeting Professionals International and $125 for nonmembers). Once you are registered, reach out to existing CMMs, including those who have just achieved the certification, to learn what to expect, challenges they faced and how they prepared. Their insights gave me a big advantage before starting the program.

A week prior to the course, candidates are assigned to a group. Connect with your team as soon as possible -- you will be each other's support system. You will complete a modest group project (typically via phone/e-mail) that is due the first day of the course. Most of your work with the group will be done on-site.

Taking the Course You will be on-site for the actual course (which costs $1,800) for just five and a half days, so make the most of your time. Know at the outset that the course is intense and that it will be impossible to fully manage your professional workload concurrently.

Getting plenty of sleep is critical because you need to be alert. Be prepared to take extensive notes; they will have a colossal impact on your success in passing both the written exam and the business plan.

Next Steps
I suggest working on the written exam, due a week after the course ends, as soon as you get back home. If you take extensive notes and really listen during the course, you should be able to pass this portion.

Also, start working on your business plan, the final step in the certification process, right after submitting your written exam, rather than waiting for results. Keep in mind that the marketing portion of the business plan is worth the most points, and the financial section also is very important. If these areas are not your forte, seek guidance from your network.

Have a strong first draft ready a few weeks before it's due, and be sure to share it with your CMM mentors to get their feedback and suggestions.

The CMM program is a huge time investment, but I believe it's well worth the effort. This is your opportunity to learn from the best and elevate both your career and the meetings and events profession.