Go from Emerging Leader to Expert with an Always-Learning Approach

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By definition, the word “emerging” means to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity. But, how do you know you’ve come into view or been noticed?

When I was working to become an official meeting planner for a software company in Dallas, many of my colleagues weren’t sure what my role was or how I spent my time. These people were focused on bits and bytes, so a meeting planner was an enigma. It was only after I had managed a couple of user conferences that they had an idea of the work involved.

But then something great happened.

I was walking out to my car and one of the product managers called after me. We chatted for a few minutes and she asked me for my advice about a meeting she was leading. I answered her, and then got in my car to go home. On the way, it dawned on me that the manager had come to me for my knowledge and expertise. She thought of me as an expert on meeting planning. Not only did that little act cause tremendous elation, but it told me I had emerged from obscurity.

Look around you. Who are the experts you rely on at work (and in life)? The reason you believe they are experts is that they have gotten the education, done the work and honed their skills. They seem like experts and you trust them for their knowledge. And—this is big—they speak about their work with confidence.

Be thirsty for knowledge about the work you do. Learn about your industry. Understand and speak confidently about how it applies to the company you work for, and people will notice. Suggest ways to improve processes that truly impact the business in a positive way. That’s when you’ll be considered an emerging leader.

There are resources to help you emerge as a leader. Industry organizations such as Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) have programs at the international and chapter levels. Check with your association or the one you want to join. Outside the industry, you can check with Young Professionals organizations and other programs often offered by the local chamber of commerce. A great industry resource is the Global Emerging Leaders Community (GEL), a web-based group providing resources and tools for emerging leaders.

Tracey Smith, CMP, CMM, has been planning meetings, conferences and special events for more than two decades, and currently lives in Central Texas. Tracy is a Global Emerging Leaders Community (GEL) contributor. GEL is a one-stop shop for all things in the industry geared toward emerging leaders. The organization is a portal that gives emerg- ing leaders with zero to seven years in the industry help embarking on their career path. emerleaders.com

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