Welcome to Ask Joan!, a new installment of Friday With Joan where readers can submit their questions.

Q: What advice do veteran meeting planners have for people just starting in the industry?

A: Such a good question with many answers! To start: Read the interviews with Howard Feiertag and Rod Abraham. In the early days of my professional involvement, I learned from both. 

Skills and traits are different; and each job has its own complexities and needs.

Here’s my start on what you can do and be. I know others will add to this section. Please feel free to add your opinions in the comments section!

  • Be curious: It’s okay not to know something and to search (with other planners and suppliers, online, at education events, using Meetings Focus' great live and archived webinars–all free!
  • Read tweets at @meetingsfocus and #eventprofs. See who other industry veterans and I follow on Twitter and follow those.
  • Make no assumptions regardless of what you think you know or what someone taught you. “Trust but verify” all you hear and read!
  • Read thoroughly–especially RFPs and proposals and contracts. It’s very easy to think you read something when in fact you thought it was there but it’s not.
  • Don’t get bogged down in details and ignore the big picture. That’s sort of like the point above about reading thoroughly. Details are important and must support the strategic goals of your organization.
  • Read and read more: The Convention Industry Council is a good place to start with the "standards and practices" tools.
  • Join an industry association: I know the cost to join and participate in local and national/international meetings can be prohibitive. Ask your employer to pay for membership and participation showing how involvement will improve your skills and add to the relationships with others from whom you can get assistance and information. Look for scholarships on the local and national/international level.
  • Depending on where you are located, my top recommendations for associations are, in alphabetical order, ASAE, IAEE, ISES, MPI, PCMA, SGMP. Read the list and descriptions of all the organizations.

And be ethical! All the organizations that are CIC members have codes of ethics/standards of conduct. If you work ethically, you’ll go much farther and longer. And soon, you'll be a meeting professional in no time.

Colleagues, chime in with your own advice in the comments!

I’ll continue to answer reader submitted questions in future editions of Friday With Joan, to which you can subscribe. Email FridayWithJoan@aol.com with questions, related to the week's blog or whatever is on your mind.