<![CDATA[Midwest Meetings - Resources]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 09:31:15 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Danger: Diets Ahead]]>Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:41:10 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/danger-diets-aheadPicture
As a planner, there are probably times when it seems everyone in the world wants something from you. “Keeping people happy” might as well have its own line in your job description. When it comes to special diet needs of attendees, some might be tempted to dismiss such requests as mere pickiness.

In reality, they could be matters of life or death. People regulate their diets based on a variety of factors including personal preference, religion or health. An individual might pass on red meats, for instance, because he or she has chosen a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle - or because he or she has a serious, life-threatening cholesterol problem.

You might never know the reason for a special diet request, but each should be honored for the comfort and safety of the attendee in question. This could help protect you and your organization as well. Imagine the ramifications if an attendee with a stated shellfish allergy were to be unknowingly served an item from that food group. Who do you suppose would bear the blame once that attendee was rushed to the hospital?

Most catering and banquet personnel are accustomed to dealing with special diets and are more than capable of providing what is needed. In addition, there are a few steps you as the planner can take in order to provide options for those who may or may not ask for what they need.

Following are a few ideas you can incorporate to provide a wider range of options for attendees.

• Always include space on your registration and speaker forms for people to make special diet requests.

• When special diet requests are made, make absolutely certain to communicate these needs to food and beverage staff and work out a system to quickly and easily identify the attendees in question.

• If you’re uncertain as to what you should provide in response to a special diet request, don’t be afraid to call and discuss directly with the attendee; the gesture will most likely be appreciated.

• For diet requests made due to a religion’s requirements, it might be best to discuss directly with the attendee; many people vary widely in their level of adherence to restrictions.

• For plated meals, request a standard percentage of vegan or vegetarian meals for those who might not wish to eat meat or animal products.

• For buffets, request complete ingredient cards to be posted with each dish for those who avoid or are allergic to specific foods, such as peanuts or shellfish.

• Ask that a low-carb option, such as a vegetable mix as an alternative to potatoes or bread, will be available on the menu for those who desire it.

• Offer items such as boiled eggs, peanut butter, yogurt and bananas for those seeking a healthy energy boost.

<![CDATA[Are You Prepared?]]>Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:25:27 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/are-you-preparedPicture
Disasters can strike in any form and at any time. As a planner, the need exists for a disaster preparedness plan in every location and situation. While not every scenario can be anticipated, a good plan will dictate the steps to evaluating and coping in an emergency. 

When preparing emergency procedures, try to think of as many things that could go wrong as possible, and outline how to proceed in the event of each one. Then make sure everyone knows what is to happen.

First, familiarize yourself with the facility’s emergency plan and coordinate any additional procedures with facility staff. Delegate specific responsibilities to designated individuals you can count on to act in an emergency. Make sure everyone involved in planning and enacting these procedures has all the information needed to carry them out.

Here are a few very basic questions to give you an idea of what to ask when coordinating an emergency plan with the facility staff. 

• Is there an existing written evacuation plan? 

• Are all facility staff familiar with this plan? 

• How are emergency procedures initiated? 

• What is the emergency notification plan for attendees and guests? 

• Are all exits clearly marked?

• Is there a map of exits and evacuation routes displayed in all rooms? 

• Where is a first-aid station located? 

• Where are the nearest hospitals?

<![CDATA[Event Security]]>Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:08:21 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/event-securityPicture
Security has always been important to successful event planning, but it has become even more critical in recent years with the continued threat of terrorism. Terrorism is a real concern, and while it is unlikely to occur at an event, most meeting/event planners and their clients aren’t taking chances. Gone are the days when security was viewed as a precaution to manage crowds and diffuse tense situations. Today, the entire scope of security has changed, especially for events that are complex in nature and involve large crowds in public areas. 

As a company that plans and executes extremely complex events, we have always been attuned to the need for extra security at most of our events. With recent concerns, the sense of urgency for security has not only increased but it is now recognized as a wise investment. Previously, clients may have balked at the additional costs for bomb-detection dogs, x-ray equipment and tons of security people. Today, it doesn’t take much persuasion to drive home the fact that extra safety costs are worthwhile. 

Effective security planning for events in this new era takes into account a number of factors. 

Conducting a threat assessment 

A threat assessment, which precedes every event, is the process by which each possible security threat is identified and resolved. Factors include the event’s location, whether it is open to the public, the sponsoring organization’s reputation and the high-profile people who will attend. We always develop a plan in tandem with a professional security firm to identify every possible threat - from gate-crashers to public demonstrations - which could be disruptive. 

Screening and perimeter planning 

Most events, especially those which are outdoors or open to the public, involve screening of everything: equipment, packages and people. In some cases, background checks of all expected guests may be necessary. Threat assessment also takes into consideration the perimeter of an event, which is where protesters, groupies and bystanders often gather. 

Hiring professional security 

Security personnel need to be specially trained to deal with many types of situations. There is a difference between merely “handling” a situation and “removing” it from the site. Professional security experts understand the importance of removing the situation when warranted, and they also know which ones should be taken care of on the spot. We prefer a security plan in which off-duty police officers make up at least half of the personnel. Off-duty officers bring street savvy to an event that can be helpful, among other things, in coordinating with uniformed, on-duty police assigned to the event. 

Working with city departments 

Complex events can require the coordination of five or six city departments, each with separate responsibilities. It falls to the events firm to synergize each of the departments, including fire and medical personnel, local law enforcement groups and anyone else with a responsibility for the safety and security of people attending the event. There should be emergency response and evacuation plans, and a procedure for dealing with fire and medical emergencies. Certain events require a “command center” usually operated by the event management company in conjunction with appropriate city officials. 

Dealing with unexpected situations 

Despite having completed a formal threat assessment, situations usually arise that weren’t expected and require immediate action. Experienced professionals will have dealt with countless “unexpected” situations, and should be able to resolve any problem with skill, grace and finesse. 

The bottom line? Maintain the prestige of the event with a barely detectable and pristine security plan firmly in place.
<![CDATA[ADA Says: Animals At Work]]>Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:29:34 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/ada-says-animals-at-workPicture
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), lodging and dining facilities are required to allow service animals to accompany their owners into any and all areas that are accessible to other guests. This law supersedes any “no pets” restrictions in place at any property, including health codes in restaurants.

The “We Welcome Service Animals” campaign is a national effort to improve the level of service received by individuals with disabilities from those in the hospitality industry. Recognizing the life-enriching and vital assistance of service animals, the campaign strives to build awareness of the ADA’s stipulations for compliance. As a meeting planner, you should be aware of the guidelines for appropriate behavior in relation to service animals. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Service animals are not pets, and cannot be treated as such.
  • An attendee who depends on a service animal has the same choice of accommodations as anyone else, and cannot be relegated to a “pet room” or the equivalent.
  • Don’t make assumptions about an attendee’s needs based on the presence of a service animal; they can assist those with a sight or hearing loss or with a physical disability, visible or not.
  • Dogs aren’t the only animals that can help out - cats and monkeys are two types of species that can also be trained as service animals.
  • Ask the owner if any special assistance can be provided to make him/her or the service animal more comfortable during the meeting or event.
  • It is against the law to ask an individual to “prove” a disability to justify the presence of a service animal.
  • It is acceptable, however, to inquire as to the specific service an animal provides the individual.
  • Owners of service animals are responsible for any damage that may be caused by the animals and for cleaning up after them.• Let the attendee know ahead of time the location of a convenient outdoor spot where the animal can be walked.
  • If possible, consider arranging for a little extra seating room for the attendee so the service animal does not feel threatened by those nearby.
  • If you know of attendees with serious animal allergies, you might consider seating arrangements that keep as much distance between those attendees and the service animal as possible.For more information about the “We Welcome Service Animals” campaign and how to improve service to those with disabilities, visit www.calodging.com.

<![CDATA[Let’s Stop Calling Ourselves Event Planners]]>Thu, 03 Apr 2014 16:43:59 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/lets-stop-calling-ourselves-event-plannersPicture

by Amanda Luppino-Esposito
Can you have an event without people? It would be difficult. As event professionals, we worry spend a lot of time worrying about people. Are enough people coming to our event? Are people engaged at our event? Are they learning at our event?

While we can spend a lot of time working out the logistics, the one factor that remains constant no matter which event or circumstance is the human factor.  And isn’t that the most important part?

The human factor – also known as just dealing with people – is both the most difficult and most rewarding part of my job. It’s the most difficult because it’s where most things go wrong – people are only human, after all. But it’s the most rewarding because I love to make connections, I love to bring people together. And that’s the goal of most events, even when it’s not explicit.

I once read a great article where an industry leader urged event planners to call themselves “connectors” rather than “planners.” The most important part of our jobs is to bring people together, so why aren’t we bringing that to the forefront of the conversation?  I love that idea. Let’s be honest, outside of our industry, do many people really know what we do for a living? Absolutely not. I have an aunt who, bless her heart, thinks I have a catering business and cannot wrap her head around the idea that I work in events, manage a team of event planners, but that we don’t have a hard product (like catering).

When we do talk about what we do with people outside the industry, we tend to focus on the logistics and hard numbers.  “I’m a planner.” “I organize X event.” “I manage a 10 thousand person citywide event.”

Someone who has never planned an event isn’t going to appreciate the detail and skill that goes into planning. So why not boil it down to something (almost) anyone can understand: making connections and bringing people together?

I’m not sure that telling my aunt who thinks I’m a caterer that I “bring people together” will suddenly illuminate my career for her, but it might start a conversation on the real value of what I do on a daily basis. It’s worth a shot, right?

<![CDATA[5 Warnings about Social Media in the Meetings Market]]>Mon, 14 Oct 2013 19:19:47 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/5-warnings-about-social-media-in-the-meetings-marketPicture
After returning from two weeks of vacation, my mind is just now clawing its way out from underneath the pile of unanswered emails, tweets, comments, and shares.

One of the first things I noticed, however, was a white paper released recently by Marketing Challenges International titled, "Social Media Marketing for Global Destinations in the Meetings and Conventions Industry." The reason is that it was forwarded to me by three different people through three completely different channels, and when this happens, I generally pay attention.

The paper is a concise summary about social media statistics in the travel industry, its foray into the meetings segment, and a close look at some of the great work that the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) is doing, harnessing the power of social media in order to attract meetings planners and their end customers.

From a destination marketing perspective, this all makes perfect sense. Social media is particularly suited for attracting and engaging tourists and visitors, so why not meeting attendees -- and why not move up the channel and attract or engage meeting planners? However, before making a decision about social media one way or another for your destination's group sales efforts, here are five general warnings to consider:

1. This is a serious business.
All things considered, the barriers to entry in using social media are pretty low. But the barrier to entry in using social media well is a lot higher. Like all things, social media is a serious business opportunity, and the more you evaluate it as such, the better off you'll be. In fact, while the vast majority of meeting planners do get news and updates via social media, a much smaller percentage actually use it to engage with suppliers.

That being said, two of the most common pitfalls are to either jump in blindly believing that social media will be the best thing since grilled cheese, or to write it off completely as a waste of time. Chances are it will be neither for your DMO, so take the time to figure out exactly what social media tools will put you in a better place with meeting planners as well as attendees.

2. Get a double-edged strategy.
If you saw the two examples for the ACVB, you'll notice that each is geared toward a different customer in the meetings market, and that's how all destinations should craft a social media strategy. The "Meet in Austin" pinboard on Pinterest would be of interest to only meeting professionals, people looking for space that fits their meeting requirements during the planning stages of the event, while the list of hot spots near the convention center on Foursquare is primarily useful to meeting delegates during the actual event. Understand where in the sales funnel each social media tool can assist your sales efforts, fully taking into account what audience you're reaching with it.

3. Do more than just promote.
Marketing Challenges International said in the white paper, "In the meetings and conventions market, usage of social media by convention bureaus and convention centers has two main purposes: first, to promote the destination to potential new clients, and second, to help meeting planners promote their events to potential attendees." I'm sad to admit that this is true.

The greater truth however, is that's not necessarily what most meeting planners are looking for. In the latest annual empowerMINT survey of meeting planners from this past July, meeting planners are still most interested in "securing honest, insider information on venues," so please keep this in mind when using social media. As the ACVB did with its Foursquare list, build trust by providing useful information, not advertisements. Create solutions, not spam.

4. I now pronounce you "Sales and Marketing."
So far, social media primarily has been confined to the marketing department that often have the limited capability to perform promotional functions in the meetings market. However, social media is a personal channel. It's particularly suited to create one-on-one relationships quickly that can then be further developed offline, which brings me to my next point of bringing your sales team on board and marrying sales and marketing. In my experience working with some of the best interactive marketing managers at various DMOs in the meetings market, the resounding road block that most encounter is making the jump from a destination-planner relationship to a sales professional-planner relationship.

Sales professionals have an increasingly urgent opportunity to take the reins of their own social media marketing on their turf. Imagine if a sales manager for the ACVB had created that Foursquare list or managed that Pinterest board. Wouldn't every planner that looked at those tools be calling that manager, connecting with that manager personally to find out more? How many leads would that generate in a year? It's incredible to me that more sales professionals in our industry aren't doing it.

5. Measure, measure, measure.
When reading the white paper, it seems like the ACVB has it all down pat, but you'll most likely discover that it didn't all just happen overnight. If I've learned anything from my conversations with their interactive queen, Katie Cook, it's been a process of trial and error, little experiments that led to great successes, and constant measurement to figure out exactly what's working and what's not.

That's exactly my recommendation for you. You have nothing to lose if you have a sound strategy of starting small, but as this is an ever-changing landscape, make adjustments, and make them often -- and always ask for help. Chances are someone has already made some mistakes starting out and can keep you from making the same ones.

Source: www.destinationmarketing.org
<![CDATA[Using Loyalty to Make Your Event a Success]]>Tue, 03 Sep 2013 15:15:17 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/using-loyalty-to-make-your-event-a-successPicture
This post will be covering a few ideas that can be borrowed from loyalty programmes to make your event a success.

Loyalty has been used in marketing for hundreds of years but it is perhaps in the past 40 years that we have really seen the growth of loyalty programmes such as airline frequent flyer programs, credit card points, coffee shop loyalty cards or hotel club memberships.

This type of marketing is all about repeat business and if you run regular or even annual events then you will know that repeat attendees are an incredibly important group of people; both in terms of direct bookings but also because they help you advertise the event to their peers.

Make Previous Attendees Feel Privileged
When announcing a new event think about the ways that you could make previous attendees feel exclusive.

You could leverage principles from airline loyalty schemes such as priority boarding by telling these people that you have reserved them a seat in the front row as long as they confirm before a certain date.

Or perhaps you could offer them a free gift such as a shopping voucher or a free night in a nice local hotel if you know they are travelling from a distance.

Create Balanced Rewards for Early Bookings
With many events there are early bird booking options where attendees get a significant discount for booking early.

However, this practice needs some careful thought, as it is embarrassing when you see extensions to early bird prices.

Also, if a potential attendee misses out on the early bird price then they may feel like they are being done when they pay out the full ticket price.

There should be incentives to book early but they do not have to be financial. They could be things like:

• Access to an exclusive 30-minute discussion with an industry expert.
• Best seating at the event
• A free ticket to an after event dinner

A discount is easily forgotten but a value add such as an over dinner discussion with the speakers and experts from the event is remembered far more profoundly.

Here is a story about how Starbucks faltered with their rewards program through demoting Gold members who did not shop frequently enough.

Read more at Event Manager Blog
<![CDATA[Career Skills You Won't Learn in School]]>Mon, 26 Aug 2013 19:53:28 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/career-skills-you-wont-learn-in-schoolPicture
There are a number of skills important to being successful in the job market, but you won’t necessarily acquire them in school. These skills will not only help you to thrive as you make the initial transition from school to work, but also to manage your career for the long term. And they may be different from the skills that brought you success as a student. Your needs, the demands of the job market, and the nature of your field will all change over time. Developing career skills now, in the areas of planning, networking, conducting a job search, and persisting through the process, are critical to finding that next job, whether it’s your first experience or you are a seasoned professional seeking advancement. This guide will help you begin to navigate the job market and make the most of your online degree.

Career planning efforts should take place before you send out your first employment applications. These activities will help you to identify employers hiring in your field, establish your professional presence online, and develop a strategy for how you will move forward with your search.

Create a list of specific companies and organizations that are currently seeking people with your job skills. You may already be working in your field and have an awareness of where hiring is taking place. If so, add these businesses to your list and continue to explore similar companies and those that provide related services. If you are planning to enter a new field after graduation, now is the time to find out more about the industry you are interested in and identify potential employers to add to your list.

Keep your list of potential employers up-to-date, adding and removing information to maintain a current roster of contacts. Find a format that works for you and is easy to edit. This may be a simple handwritten ledger or a more complex spreadsheet. Create entries that include details such as: company name, websites, location, human resources contact, any vacancy announcement information, and how you found out about them (e.g. through a friend, social media, news article, alumni). Remember to focus on the skills required, not just the type of company. You may find potential opportunities that require your skills in a variety of organizations, ranging from non-profits and private businesses to government agencies and educational settings.

While you will continuously find leads and ideas about potential employers, there are a few ways you can begin your research now. Explore the following resources and get your list started.
  • Venues and special events. Check with your college’s career center to find out where you can meet employers in your local area and online through career and employment events, such as career fairs (virtual and traditional) and employer information sessions. If you don’t have access to a college career center, you can find out about career fairs through news outlets in your local area, as well as through national career fair planners and directories such as National Career FairsJob-Hunt.org also provides links to some of the larger events and reminds us to consider both privacy policies and the lists of employers participating in each fair before deciding to join in.
  • Online services.  So much information is available via the Internet today. Look for job databases, online application, and resume referral systems. There are general sites, such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, which include searchable information on a wide variety of jobs and industries. And there are more specific sites that feature jobs related do a particular industry, such as Dice.com for information technology careers.
  • Alumni directories. Work with your school to locate lists of alumni from your program. This information may be available online in a searchable directory or available from an alumni services office or career center. Find out where graduates from your program are working and if their organization is hiring.
  • Recruiters.  Many companies use either in-house human resource recruiters or contracted recruiting and staffing firms to identify potential applicants. Locate recruiters making placements in your career field and find out how you can work with them to identify potential job opportunities. EmploymentDigest.net provides guidance on working with recruiters that includes researching the companies to find out where they make placements and being truthful in presenting your experience and job interests.
Get in touch with your career center advisors to find out more about how your school is working directly with employers. Keep in mind that employers that are already recruiting at your school are likely aware of your program and the fact that it is online, and find some benefit in actively recruiting there.

But don’t just compile a list of employers and leave it at that. Use it to maintain your focus on employers that are interested in hiring in your field, and to help you document future networking and application efforts. It’s important to stay organized as you make multiple contacts and send out resumes.

What will potential employers find out if they search for information about you online? A positive and professional online presence is gaining importance in today’s job market. Having an online presence allows you to not only participate in social networking activities related to your career field, but also present your experience, interests, and skills to potential employers in an arena where they are already active – the Internet.

A recent article in Forbes provides a sneak peak of the future of job search and placement activities, a future in which your online presence may replace your traditional resume and provide a way for employers to find you based on a match of their job needs with your skills and interests. Taking the time to thoughtfully establish your online profiles, with a job search in mind, is a key part of the preparation you need to complete before applying for positions.

How much time will you invest every week, every day, in looking for a job? How will you make contact with potential employers? Where will you look for position announcements? Developing a job search strategy to answer these questions helps you to focus your efforts so that the time you spend looking for a job is as efficient and effective as possible. Consider your other commitments, such as school, family, and current employment and plan wisely.

Block time on your schedule to conduct your search and create a list of specific activities you’ll engage in to complete your search. Organize a list of contacts and decide how you will follow-up with each one and what search techniques you will use. If you are interested in career fairs for example, find local events and virtual ones that are scheduled to take place and register. Keep a record of your efforts and review this periodically. Figure out which activities are working well, and which ones aren’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Active professional networking means reaching out to and maintaining contact with those individuals who can provide you with information about your career field and potential opportunities. These efforts may open up leads to positions you weren’t aware of, jobs that are filled through referrals, and opportunities that are so new they haven’t been advertised. The Riley Guide cites a recent report that found over a quarter of external hires where placed as a result of referrals.

Networking can take place in a variety of ways and result in both helpful information and assistance.
  • Contact your previous employers, internship supervisors, and other individuals who may be aware of your skills and experience. Let them know that you are in school, or a recent graduate, and what type of employment you are seeking.
  • Join and participate in relevant professional groups, both formal and informal, that are made up of people working in your field, and that involve discussions about trends and employment. Keep in mind that joining is just the first step in networking with groups — you’ve also got to take the initiative and actively participate in the events and conversations.
  • Ask for help. Let your network know you are looking for a job and what you are looking for in the way of information and assistance. Be as specific as possible with your requests. Ask for an introduction to a valuable contact, for example.
  • Thank those who are helpful to you. Express your appreciation for their efforts and consider how you might offer similar assistance to others in the future.
Hopefully you’ve already begun to engage in these kinds of activities, but if not, now’s the time to do get started. Not every networking contact will result in helpful information, but you will continue to build skills through active participation in the process. Select several ways in which you are comfortable interacting and add these networking activities to your schedule and job search strategy.

As an online student, you may have different opportunities to network during your program. Traditional students may benefit from on-campus events that feature alumni and employers. Similar opportunities may be available for you, via online interaction and communication. Take the initiative to seek out these opportunities through your school advisors, as well as those sponsored by organizations in your local area. Remember that networking is an ongoing process beneficial in the job search and throughout your career as you face work-related challenges and seek continued advancement in your field.

“The job search process” is a commonly used term that may include a wide range of steps and tasks related to securing employment. There are other requirements you will need to address as you submit your application for the opportunities you discover from the professional networking tasks listed above.

There is a wealth of advice on how to write resumes and cover letters available online, at your career center, and through private resume writing services. The function of the resume is to attract an employer’s attention to your qualifications, show how you fit their needs, and hopefully prompt them to invite you an interview so they can find out more about you. There are several key considerations before moving forward. Take a look at these guidelines and plan for how you will proceed with your own resume.
  • Organize. There are two primary ways in which traditional resumes are organized: chronological (listing your experiences in a time sequence) and functional (listing your experiences by skill set). There’s no right or wrong here. It’s about presenting your information in the best possible way, which may even be a combination of approaches.
  • Summarize. Your resume should be a summary of your qualifications and may include sections such as Education, Work History, Skills, Activities, Awards, etc. The list of possible categories is endless, but they should all work together to highlight your most relevant experience.
  • Focus. Present your achievements in past positions instead of basic job descriptions. Use action verbs and quantification to describe what you have done in the past. Be as specific as possible. For example, “Managed an annual marketing budget of $50,000″ is more informative than “Responsible for managing finances.”
  • Format. Will you be mailing, emailing, or uploading your resume? Or all of the above? It will probably be necessary for you to have different versions available in terms of file format. A PDF may be helpful when sending as an email attachment, a word processing document for printing hard copies, and a text file for cutting and pasting. Readability is critical and document formatting such as bolding, and italicizing may not convert well when uploaded or cut/paste into an online system, so have several options available and look for specific instructions from employers. You may also want to consider setting up a virtual resume through an online system like VisualCV or as part of a personal website.
  • Review examples. Find examples of resumes and explore the variety of possible styles and approaches that are being used. Resume writing experiences trends that come and go, so it is beneficial to look at current practices, especially in your field. Your career center may be able to share sample resumes from previous students in your program, and there are many, many examples (good and bad) available online. The National Association of Colleges and Employers and Susan Ireland’s Resume Site are just two of the available sources to explore.
  • Get a critique. Have at least one person, but preferably more than just one person, review your resume and offer a critique. You should definitely include a career center advisor in the process, as well as others who have experience in your field. Is there someone in your network who could provide a review and make suggestions?
Your resume will be unique to you. While it may adhere to accepted practice in terms of organization and format, you should ensure that it is accurately reflecting your qualifications.

Cover letters, also known as letters of intent, letters of interest, and job search letters, work with your resume to help you get an interview. Your cover letter should be your introduction to hiring managers and persuade them to read further.
  • Be brief. These letters are just part of the screening process and should ideally be kept to one page in length. Don’t repeat information in your resume. Instead, highlight the most relevant parts of it and address your interest and qualifications in the position.
  • Tailor the information. Each cover letter should be written for the specific employer to whom it will be sent. It’s tempting to create one letter than can be sent to everyone, but that approach will result in a letter that is not as relevant or focused on each position and company, and therefore not as effective.
  • Review examples. Looking at sample cover letters can be helpful to get a better idea of what is expected. There are different formats to consider as well. Quintcareers.com and Minnesota’s iSeek.org both provide cover letter tips and samples. Don’t forget to check with your career center as well.
  • Get a critique. Just as with your resume, having others review your cover letter and provide suggestions will ensure it is professional in nature and helps you say what you need to say.


Once you’ve received an invitation to interview, you should begin preparing for the meeting in multiple ways. Again, you’ll find a lot of advice and guidance through your career center professionals, but here are a few of the basics to get you started.
  • Consider location. Will the interview take place in person or at a distance, either online or over the phone? An in-person meeting involves dress for success considerations. Phone interviews and video conference meetings will require you to set up a quiet location.
  • Research the company. This is basic advice, and luckily, you may have already done some preliminary work to write your resume and cover letter. However, take additional time now to further explore the company you will be interviewing with – be ready to answer questions that will test this knowledge. Use company websites, as well as resources such as Vault.com to find out more.  Does the company also have a profile on LinkedIn?
  • Gather your documentation. Prepare extra copies of your resume, a list of references with contact information, a presentation of relevant work samples, and all academic transcripts. These are all items that may be helpful to you as you answer questions in an interview and may be requested by the employer during or immediately following the interview. You may also want to consider building a career portfolio for use in your job search and interviews.
  • Practice possible interview questions. There are lists of general questions that can help you practice how you will respond in the interview itself. Consider having a “mock interview” with someone in your network or through your career center that will give you a more realistic opportunity to practice. Practice makes perfect as you gain experience fielding interview questions, and your skills in being interviewed will increase, as will your comfort level with the experience.
  • Prepare your own questions. You may be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session. What additional information do you need to know about the organization and the available position? Prepare questions that help to move the conversation forward and improve your understanding of the needs of the company. Be sure to avoid discussing salary at this point.
  • Follow-up. Sending a note of thanks to each of your interviewers is both professional and courteous. Write individual letters and send them within 24 hours after your interview. It is acceptable to send these either by regular mail or email. Review several samples online to get a better idea of typical format for expressing your interest, fit, and appreciation.
As an online student, you should prepare to answer questions about your online learning experience.  A 2009 review of research conducted to identify employer perceptions of online academic degrees found that employers often cite the following reasons for their reluctance to accept online degrees in the same way that they accept traditional degrees: perception of a lack of rigor and more limited face-to-face interaction, potential for cheating and plagiarism, perception of online programs as diploma mills, and a questioning of the overall commitment of online students to their education as compared to students that attend on-campus programs.

The review also found that there are specific conditions that could make an employer view an applicant with an online degree more favorably. If the applicant received the online degree from a school with a positive reputation and the right accreditation, that could make a difference. Applicants with previous, related work experience, in addition to the online degree are also viewed more positively. While employer acceptance of online degrees is growing, there is still a general perception that online courses do not have the same educational value as traditional face-to-face courses. Anticipate how will you respond to interviewers who ask about the value and quality of your online degree.

Be prepared to discuss how you chose your online program and the value and quality you experienced as a student. Provide feedback about how the program was accredited and the qualifications of the faculty. Be prepared to describe the ways in which you interacted with your instructors, your classmates, and the course content. Explain to interviewers how the skills you gained through your online studies complement any related work or practical experience you have and qualify you to work in your field.

Many employers extend offers over the phone and follow-up with an official offer letter. It is important to thoroughly evaluate a job offer before making a decision, no matter how tempting it may be to accept or decline on the spot.
  • Timeframe. Ask when the employer will be giving you a decision. This will vary with each offer, but typically you’ll have a few days to respond. If you are not sure, ask if there is a timeframe.
  • Offer details. Job offers may or may not include a lot of detailed information. It is okay at this point to ask about salary, compensation, work location, and start date if these topics have not already been addressed in previous conversations. Create a personalized checklist of items you need to consider, and to compare if you are in a situation where you receive multiple options. A written list can help you sort through both the pros and cons of each offer.
  • Negotiation. If you are interested in possible negotiation of the terms of the offer, first ask if this is an option. Many employers do offer you the opportunity to negotiate different components of the offer, ranging from salary and relocation to vacation and professional development. Salary is a typical point of negotiation. Do your own research to find out more about expected salaries in your field, and for people with your level of education and experience, before entering salary negotiations.
  • Decision-making. The decision to accept or decline an offer is yours to make. Arriving at a decision can be a difficult process, but it can be aided by conducting research and asking questions, as well as seeking the advice and support of your network.
  • Accepting/declining. Once you have made your decision, communicate it clearly with the employer. You may want to contact them directly at first by phone or email and follow-up immediately with an official letter of acceptance or rejection. Be conscious of time and reply with your decision within the agreed upon timeframe.
There’s a lot you can do to put your best foot forward during the job search process. Maintain a focus on helping each employer realize the ways in which you are a good fit for their organization.

There’s no doubt that today’s job market is challenging. What if a job offer doesn’t come right away? According to the Career Services Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, you can expect your job search to take anywhere from 8 to 23 weeks. It could even take longer depending on your needs and the economic conditions surrounding your field during the time of your search. What can you do to survive a long search?
  • Find a support group. Rally your friends, family, and members of your network to help with brainstorming and making connections, as well as to provide encouragement along the way.
  • Monitor and track your industry. Set up organized news feeds of information that will keep you up-to-date with information and events.
  • Plan ahead. If you begin preparation early in your academic program, it may be helpful to budget for an extended job search, saving money for personal expenses if there is a gap between graduating and starting a new job.
  • Stay involved. Be an active participant in local and community organizations and professional groups. Find ways to keep your skills sharp and continue your networking through volunteer projects and short-term work assignments.
  • Consult with career professionals. Chances are these advisors are already available to you as part of the support services offered by your school. Don’t underestimate the value of working with a career services expert who can provide guidance in all areas of your career planning and job search.


Today’s job market and its influences are dynamic. All sectors of employment are responding to global factors, economic uncertainty, and high-level industry changes. Remember that hiring trends change over time, so while some occupations become obsolete, others are emerging as new fields.

The nature of work itself is changing. Technology now plays a major role in both how work is accomplished and in how positions are being filled. Your experience as an online student may provide you with essential skills related to completing collaborative projects, working independently, and communicating efficiently in virtual work environments. Be ready to market that type of experience and education in multiple ways, and stay flexible to meet the evolving needs of employers.

Source: http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/career-skills-learn-school/
<![CDATA[5 of the Most Active Event Planners on the Web]]>Mon, 20 May 2013 19:29:39 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/5-of-the-most-active-event-planners-on-the-webPicture
Arwin Adriano
I never taught I would become this active engaging and sharing event planning ideas on the web as I first started Event Checklist as a website focused on sharing current and upcoming events around the world. But as time goes by, I felt I have to do something more from that then I came up with the idea of revamping Event Checklist objective and turning the website into a blog focus on sharing Event Planning. I think the development of the blog marks as the start of becoming one of the trusted and go to site of event planners on the web.

EventChecklist.net would not be a success without the help of other bloggers that have show interest of sharing their ideas through submitting their guest post, with that I would like to extend my Thank you to all.

Event Planning is broad field and I believe there is more to that and that the industry will continue to grow and develop. More Event Planners will share their ideas and I am very proud that I was part of it.

Before I start sharing my list, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following event planners that I have included in my list. They are my inspirations and I really appreciate their effort of keeping the event planning industry a lot better.

I think that’s enough for the introduction and let us start with the list.

Jenise Fryatt
First on my list is Jenise Fryatt. Jenise works as a Social Media Strategist, Blogger, and Content Marketer of smartershift.com. You can get in touch with her through her Twitter account @JeniseFryatt. What I love about Jenise is that she actively participates engaging with other event planners which I find very humble of her.

Liz King
My second one is the New York base Social Media and Event Blogger Liz King. Liz runs the blog lizkingevents.com and you could reach her through her Twitter account @lizkingevents. Liz has tons of Event Planning ideas that you could read through her blog.

Dave Lutz and Jeff Hurt
Third on my list is the duo from velvetchainsaw.com Dave Lutz @VelChain and Jeff Hurt @JeffHurt. What I love about these guys is that they love sharing great stuffs about event industry coming from various sources.

Adrian Segar
Fourth on the list is the US base blogger Adrian Segar. Adrian is the author of Conferences That Work (conferencesthatwork.com). He is one of the guys that I find religiously promoting event planning. You could follow his twitter account at @ASegar. I believe he is one of the first guys that built a community of event planners on Google Plus (eventprofs)

Julius Solaris
Last on my list is none other than the founder and editor of eventmanagerblog.com Julius Solaris @tojulius. I believe he’s one of the pioneers that introduce Event Planning industry on the web as I find him to be very successful in building communities just like when he started Event Planning and Management LinkedIn Group in 2008, to date the community has more than 100,000 members which is no doubt the largest event professionals group on the web. Aside from the community that he have started you could learn new stuffs and event planning development on his blog.

That wraps up my list on who to follow in the event planning industry. I am sure that you won’t regret following these guys as you will surely learn a lot from them. By the way, if you are serious about event planning I also suggest that you visit event-planning.alltop.com. There are tons of event planning blogs listed there.

Until next time. Follow me on Twitter @adrianoarwin.

Photo Credit: plastAnka

More from EventChecklist.net http://www.eventchecklist.net/event-planners-on-the-web/#ixzz2TrYRoffV
<![CDATA[Multilingual Events]]>Mon, 16 Apr 2012 21:58:04 GMThttp://www.midwestmeetings.com/resources/multilingual-eventsDo you know how to work with interpreters?
by Elizabeth Colón
With the advance of international trade and the internet as essential business tools, many companies have gone global in a short period of time. Although English is the most common language in the business world, it’s still much more productive to bridge language gaps between English speakers and those who prefer to speak in a native language.
This is especially true in the world of conferences and meeting planning. The main purpose of meetings and conferences is communication. Whether that is communication about a topic, a company, or for networking purposes, being able to convey and understand the key messages is of utmost importance. Additionally, multilingual meetings provide the opportunity to build rapport, promote two-way conversation, and gain valuable feedback from an audience. As a planner, your role should be to facilitate multilingual features in the planning stages. Here are a few aspects you should know about.

Conference Interpreting Options

If managed correctly, multilingual conferences and meetings hold the promise of great opportunities. However, without effective interpreting for clear communication, your message could be diluted or irreparably harmed. The first step when planning for multilingual audiences: understanding your options.

There are several styles or types of interpreting that are utilized in the meeting scenario. Depending on the meeting audience, size, language needs, and budget, planners will typically need to choose from two different interpreting solutions:

• Consecutive Interpreting. Often used for Q&A, or two-way communication, the key characteristic of consecutive interpreting is that the interpreter is up front, with the speaker and visible to the audience. The interpreter takes turns with the speaker, therefore reducing the amount of time the speaker has to deliver content. Consecutive interpreting can be used in a lecture-style setting as well, but only if your clients can afford to lengthen the presentation time or if portable equipment is unavailable.

• Simultaneous Interpreting. Simultaneous interpreters are skilled in speaking and listening at the same time, and deliver the translated speech a few seconds behind the original speaker. There are a range of options when it comes to simultaneous interpreting, based on size of meeting and budget. For small meetings or lectures where participants don’t pay a fee, it can be more affordable to use whisper interpreting. This can also be used when there are only a few speakers of different languages. Whisper interpreting (portable simultaneous interpreting) can have many uses including, for business meetings, use in tours of facilities, etc.

For large meetings or conferences, a simultaneous interpreter typically sits in a booth, listening through headphones to the incoming message in the source language and communicating it over a microphone to whoever is listening in the target language (also called “active” language). Typically, simultaneous interpreting uses technology such as cameras and specialized listening devices, an important factor to keep in mind when budgeting for this type of service for clients.

For meeting planners, the decision can come down to the style of communication needed for the event. Here is an easy factor to determine whether to choose consecutive vs. simultaneous interpreting: if time is of the essence, simultaneous interpreting may be a better option. Since simultaneous interpreting does not require presenters to pause for interpretation, it allows for more time to be allotted to presentations and speeches.

What to Look For

Once a decision has been made about which style of interpreting is needed for your client's event, the next step is to seek out a qualified interpreting partner. Knowing what to look for and the right questions to ask will be an important ingredient in the ultimate success of your client's meeting. Here are some qualifications you should look for in an interpreter partner:

• Have extensive experience with interpretation and a documented history in professional interpreting situations.
• Preferably have in-depth knowledge of the subject area - in particular, with technology or medical settings, there is specialized language that needs to be conveyed clearly.
• Integrate cultural preferences into choices of words and phrases.
If the vendor you select is a professional interpreting agency, typically you will be put in contact with the audiovisual service providers you’ll need. However, if not, make sure to contract a reliable company with solid experience in simultaneous interpretation, which is much more demanding in terms of sound quality and fine-tuning than your everyday supplier of audiovisual support.
Integrating Successful Interpreting
Professional interpreters are completely transparent and, from the audience perspective, their delivery should sound as though the speakers were making the presentation in the language of the listeners. Many speakers have never worked with a professional interpreter before, so it is important as the planner to impress upon your client the nuances to convey. You might even send out an email to your speakers ahead of time to provide them with interpreting tips, so they’re comfortable on the day of the event. Here are a few other onsite tips:
• If choosing consecutive interpreting, pad the schedule. An essential factor to keep in mind is that extra time will be needed. When scheduling sessions, breaks, and transitions, planners should remember to allow for this extra time so the event runs smoothly. In many cases, interpreting can double the meeting’s length. Additionally, speakers should be reminded of the need for pauses to allow for interpreting, so no important information is lost. By including appropriate time for consecutive interpreting, the meeting can proceed smoothly without scheduling pressure.
• Make space for your interpreters. When planning your client’s event, it’s essential to make space for your interpreters along with the speakers and audience. Positioning of interpreters is a key consideration.
• If only one or two people in the meeting will require interpreting, it may be best to simply position an interpreter behind these individuals for what’s known as whisper-concurrent interpreting. This is best done with portable simultaneous interpreting equipment, where those requiring interpreting have a receptor with headsets, and the interpreter whispers the interpreting into a portable mic. In this case, the interpreter cannot give as much of the emotion/expression of the source message, given the constraints, but it is a viable option when the number of individuals receiving the interpretation does not justify the investment in rental of an interpreting booth.
• Alternately, if a large portion of the audience requires interpreting and you choose consecutive interpreting, it may be preferable to position the interpreter at the front of the room, by the speaker, where he or she can clearly address the room as a whole.
 • If you choose simultaneous interpreting, make sure there is enough room for the interpreting booth. The interpreters can be in a separate room, if they can see the speaker and projecting screen via video.
• Convey to your speakers the need to speak at a reasonable speed. 
• Experienced interpreters can handle any type of content, but in the case of humor and jokes, it is advisable to stay away from puns or any humor in which the joke is based in two separate meanings of a same word. Conceptual jokes can be conveyed, as long as they are culturally sensitive.
• If the speaker is going to be reading, the interpreters should also have a copy of the material to be read, so that they, too, may read and provide an accurate onsite interpretation of the written material.
• Provide your interpreters with as much pre-event documentation as possible. At minimum, provide a detailed agenda. Also, any relevant documents being circulated during the conference should be made available to the interpreters.
• Allow time for rest. Simultaneous interpreters should not work alone for more than 90 minutes, at maximum. After 90 minutes, concentration, performance, accuracy, and overall quality of work decline drastically. Staffing with this in mind is crucial. Providing interpreting teams is best in all-day settings, which will allow for breaks.
• Provide lots of water. About 70% of body water is lost through breathing and talking. Interpreters talk throughout the conference and, therefore, need a permanent supply of drinking water.
Professional Interpreter Resources
Professional associations provide a good starting point for locating an experienced conference interpreter.
• International Association of Conference Interpreters: specializes in simultaneous and consecutive oral interpretation services. Members are located throughout the US in virtually all major American cities.
• American Translators Association: professional association of translators and interpreters, with a directory of language service companies to select from.

Elizabeth Colón founded Metaphrasis Language & Cultural Solutions, LLC in 2007. For the past 25 years, she has worked in the healthcare industry and immersed in community outreach programs. She has become an outspoken and highly successful proponent of equal access to quality services through the use of trained medical interpreters. Elizabeth is a member of the International Medical Interpreters Association, board director for the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters, and currently serves as president of THE VOICE OF LOVE, a nonprofit interpreting program for survivors of domestic violence. For more information, visit www.metaphrasislcs.com.