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The Building Blocks of Credibility

Rachel Crick recently spoke with Mary Kate McBurney about building your credibility in the meetings and events industry as a young professional.

Mary Kate McBurney is an event manager at With Intelligence. McBurney has both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of West Florida. She worked as an event manager at Etherio for two years before accepting a position as corporate event manager for With Intelligence, an investment technology group. She is a CMP and a member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) 20 in their Twenties, Class of 2023. She spoke to Small Market Meetings about the process of building credibility as a new meetings professional.

Q: What is the importance of building your credibility in the meetings and events industry?

A: Your credibility and reputation are everything. They speak to who you are as you’re building your career. I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by people who wanted to lift up young professionals. I feel very thankful over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve been taught by excellent event planners how to build trust, how to build relationships and how to show my work and what I’m executing. I’ve been able to do that by being part of different organizations, including PCMA, where you get to know others across the world who are doing what you do.

Q: Do you think emerging professionals face any specific obstacles on this front?

A: I think with the different generations in the workforce, there can be a lack of trust in our generation. I’m a on the cusp of millennial and Gen Z, and there’s certain attributes that are tacked onto each generation. People think of Gen Z and millennials, and they think they’re lazy or not going to work as hard or too young to understand. You have to surround yourself with other generations. I’ve been working with those who have been in their career longer than me, but they want to see us succeed. Who you’re networking with can be an accelerant to your career depending on who is in your ear. You have to have people who are excited.

Q: How do you build your credibility through the process?

A: I would say developing relationships is something I’ve realized early on is key. I work with a lot of clients and a lot of personalities. I can be adaptable, and what shows your credibility is being able to be flexible with the kind of person you’re working with. When I speak to people, they can see I care about what I do and the outcome I’m presenting to them. It’s also building trust through the work you’re executing. All of those small things really matter and can pile up and snowball. You also have to take opportunities; you’re always going to take the chance and say yes.

Q: How do certifications contribute to building your credibility?

A: I think that’s a really important step. There are a lot of factors and a lot of layers. I recently got my CMP. It was something I identified almost day one. I worked really hard over seven months studying and taking classes. But I think it’s a good way to say, ‘I care about my profession and this industry, and I want to better myself through continuing education.’ For young professionals, if the people they’re working with and those organizations they’re part of promote continuing education, that says ‘better yourself by getting this certificate because growing and learning is so important.’ I’m a big proponent of getting those certificates. It’s not an ‘end all, be all’ by any means, but it’s definitely helpful.

Q: What advice would you give to other young professionals who are trying to build their reputation in the industry?

A: I would say keep going. It’s going to take time; it’s not going to happen overnight. You have to look for opportunities and take advantage of them. It could mean taking on an extra work project or coming up with ideas or solutions. It shows this person’s serious about what they’re doing, they’re passionate, and that is a great way to build credibility and trust. If those around you aren’t recognizing it, it’s a good time to move on to people who do fuel that. Look to surround yourself with people who want to build you up.