Les Selby, CMP, CMM.
Like many professionals, I am connected to hundreds (or even thousands) of industry colleagues through social media.
I am a member of a number of LinkedIn groups, have a twitter account and maintain a profile on the MPI members’ website.
For a while I was a regular foursquare user and knew where a number of my industry friends were at any time.
I have become increasingly amazed about how some event people seem to be relying on their social network to do all their work and research for them.
Of course, social networks are great if you are going to a venue that you haven’t used before and want to ask if any colleague experienced any service issues that you should be aware of.
Your network is also useful if you have narrowed your selection down to two suppliers and want to hear what other professionals think about the companies you are considering.
However, all too often I see requests for things like “does anyone have an AV checklist they would share?” or “does anyone have a great budget template they could provide?” on the social media sites.
Even worse (in my opinion) are the requests I have seen posted by planners asking their connections for suggestions for a restaurant in Toronto that will seat 40 for an intimate evening or a high-end non-hotel venue for a two-day meeting in Las Vegas.
Are these planners so lazy that they can’t do any research or program development on their own?
Or are they so incompetent they don’t know how to do the research?
I think the existence of professional social networks allows some planners (who probably could not have survived in the competitive knowledge-based markets of a decade ago) to prosper because they rely on always getting an answer to any challenge quickly from others who are willing to share their experience.
When I started as a planner, the mastery of event logistics and strategy were the keys to developing a solid professional career.
Those who wanted to advance their careers joined professional associations, pursued certifications and looked for opportunities to increase their knowledge.
And those planners and suppliers who demonstrated their mastery were considered industry leaders.
Now it seems that some industry personnel are not developing their own knowledge, but, instead, depending on the collective intelligence of the community to provide the answers to any of their problems.
And if these planners are depending on the collective input, who is vetting the answers?
Like a Wikipedia article, the information is only as good as the knowledge of those people who have contributed.
I know none of us would now give up our networks, but is there a way to ensure we don’t promote professional incompetence by letting some people prosper from the efforts of the rest of us?