Need to network, stay on top of industry trends and get event planning advice but just don't have the time or budget to attend big industry conferences? Try joining a Twitter chat.
Twitter chats usually take no more than an hour of your time, require only an Internet connection and a computer and allow you to attend in the comfort of your own home or office.
On Twitter, just follow the hashtag of the chat you want to join at the appointed time. When you want to say something, include the hashtag in your tweet. It's really that simple.
Here are five chats that may be useful to you as an event professional. Remember, if you're uneasy about joining at first, lurking is a great way to get your feet wet.
1. #eventprofs - Follow @epchat for dates, times
Eventprofs is a community on Twitter for event professionals. Eventprofs chats are scheduled one to two times per week and focus on any topic that has to do with the events industry. Moderators are volunteers from the eventprofs community. Past topics have included: marketing events; promotional products; avoiding burnout.
2. #eventtable - 3 PM est on Mondays
This chat, sponsored by The Conference Publishers, focuses on event innovation. Jenise Fryatt is the moderator. Topics include: event tech trends; event ROI; sustainability strategies for events; innovative event formats.
3. #speakchat - 9 PM est on Mondays
This chat is moderated by Michele Price, also known as @ProsperityGal on Twitter. Topics revolve around the professional speaking industry. Past chats have included: humanizing your message; generating more business; and why speakers fail.
4. #assnchat - 2 PM est on Tuesdays
This chat is moderated by KiKi L'Italien and is designed for organizers and members of associations. Past chat topics have included: bullies in associations; performance reviews; professional development and monitoring social media.
5. #expochat - 3 PM est on Wednesdays
Traci Browne of Tradeshow Institute and Red Cedar Marketing moderates this chat focusing on the tradeshow industry. Past topics have included: networking; media events; streamlining the expo floor; conference content.
A popular chat can move quite fast. You may want to use a site like Tweet Chat which makes the tweets more readable and adds the chat hashtag for you. For tips on Twitter chat etiquette and getting started, check out this post.
If you've been to a few chats and would like to try your hand at moderating, #eventprofs chats are always looking for volunteers. Contact the eventprofs Community Manager, Adrian Segar if you are interested. Regular moderators are also usually in the market for people who can substitute for them when they are unavailable. Just send your favorite chat moderator a tweet offering to host a chat sometime. You may also want to check out these guidelines for moderating chats.
Whether you participate, moderate or just lurk, don't miss the wealth of great information that Twitter chats have to offer. If nothing else, be on the lookout for summaries posted on blogs after chats are finished. These collections of wisdom are often amazingly useful for finding answers to your most baffling questions.
And of course don't forget to check out Cvent's event management software to learn how can better manage your events, registrations, and event websites.
(Photo by andrewbeeston)