One of the biggest benefits of belonging to PCMA is access to a growing community of 6,000 meeting professionals, but that network wouldn't be possible without a continuing commitment to recruit more leaders from the industry. From reaching out to prospective PCMA-ers to working to retain existing members, Cecilia Bell, co-chair of the 2012 Membership Committee, says that all 22 members of the committee have been focused on expanding PCMA's reach this year.
"Our greatest resource is our members," Cecilia says. "We're all so passionate about mentoring each other and excited about the opportunity to connect with new colleagues."
Each month, they work hard to make those connections. Cecilia says that each committee member typically contacts 10 - 20 people each month. Throughout the past year, many of those calls have been to categories where PCMA is growing: corporate, exhibit managers, new professionals and executive directors of small associations. These audiences include new industry perspectives on the industry that can benefit the entire organization.
Personal Volunteering Leads to Professional Development
While her work has helped to strengthen the membership base, Cecilia says that volunteering has also helped strengthen her own career.
"It's one thing to be a PCMA member, but you get an entirely different perspective as an active volunteer," Cecilia says. "When you're on a committee, you're not there as a planner or a supplier. You're there as an equal volunteer, ready to roll up your sleeves and work toward a common goal."
That equality translates to success outside of volunteering.
"It's a lot easier to have a business relationship with a friend," Cecilia says. "When you've each already laid a foundation of trust, it makes negotiating contracts much easier for everyone involved."
In addition to nurturing planner-supplier partnerships, Cecilia says that volunteering paved the way for her most recent career leap to Key Account Director, Association Global Sales at InterContinental Hotels Group.
"From a personal standpoint, I wouldn't be in my current position if it weren't for PCMA," Cecilia adds.
While she was working at the Washington, D.C. CVB, Cecilia says she met someone who worked for IHG as they were both serving in volunteer capacities for PCMA.
"We developed a mutual respect for each other," Cecilia says. "Because we worked together as volunteers, she saw something in me that fit what she was looking for in an employee. When she had a position open up, she offered me the job."
While her year as co-chair of the Membership Committee is coming to a close, Cecilia has a long track record of giving her time and energy to PCMA. From serving as President of the Capital Chapter in 2010 to working on a sponsorship subcommittee, Cecilia has played an instrumental role at both the chapter and the national level, and that role will continue in 2013.
"This is such a positive community where everyone is encouraging," Cecilia says. "It just makes you want to always do more."