When determining how to present yourself and your brand, one of the very first things to decide is what title to put on your business card. This seemingly simple description can represent how you see yourself—and affect how your potential clients and partners see you.
Should you include your certifications in your title? And is there such a thing as too many certifications?
“To find out what the best title is, focus less on what you think sounds best, and instead find out what your clients actually are looking for,” says Sylvie di Giusto, keynote speaker and author.
Internal Titles May Differ from External Titles
How do you describe yourself? Executive assistant? Event planner? Meeting professional? Event strategist? Checklist master? The answer may depend on who is on the other side of the conversation.
For example, at your company, your title may indicate seniority and salary. “But while it might be important to position yourself as ‘junior event planner’ within your company, on the external market, it will immediately imprint a lack of experience to your clients,” di Giusto says.
It is essential to focus on what clients want, but also important to learn what terms clients are searching for, di Giusto says. A quick Google search shows that during a recent month, there were 8,200 searches for the term “meeting planner,” while only 90 searches were done for “event professional.”
While the events industry itself is moving forward with some unique titles, many industries still use the old standbys. Your best bet may be to stick with what people know. If you feel strongly about standing out from the competition, use a more specific title.
“Instead of worrying what the general term could be, become more specific about the skill set you offer and how you can immediately show what you do in your line of work, or the type of client you serve,” di Giusto says.
Pick and Choose Your Certifications
If you’re looking to pick up multiple certifications, make sure, first and foremost, that you’re doing it for yourself and your career—not simply because you want an abundance of fancy letters to add after your name. While companies appreciate certifications that suggest people are capable of performing a job well, include only certifications applicable to the job you are applying for.
“I recommend adjusting your resumes, profiles, email signatures and business cards to suit the clients you are trying to impress,” di Giusto says. “Certifications are relevant, but not all certifications are relevant all the time. Use them, but use them wisely.”
Most Importantly, Care
While titles and certifications attract clients, you should prioritize your clients and their needs. “People expect that event planners really care about their overall goals, attendees, teams, speakers, programs, suppliers and so on,” di Giusto says.
By actively listening and demonstrating that your first priority is making clients feel important and heard, you’re bound to receive a second review of your resume.
“When clients look for an event professional who cares, they look for someone who understands that the event isn’t about them, their needs, their ego” di Giusto says. “Instead, it’s all about the client and the audience, and about creating an outstanding and nurturing experience for them.”
Including an alphabet soup of initials after your name can enhance or distract. Here are some of the most popular in the meetings world.
CAE: Certified Association Executive is managed by American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and tests all aspects of the business of running an association.
CSEP: Certified Special Events Professional: International Live Events Association (ILEA) manages the designation.
CMM: Certificate in Meeting Management is an executive education program taught by Indiana University during a 15-week period, with an emphasis on strategy and leadership.
CMP: Some 11,000 Certified Meeting Professional titles have been granted by Events Industry Council after testing planners based on industry standards, practices and ethics.
DMCP: Destination Management Certified Professional designation is administered by Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) for DMC professionals.