How Google+ can be an effective tool for meeting planners.
Google Docs has been growing more popular each day and therefore needs no further introduction, but did you know that with an extra click of your Google account, you can add Google+?
The initiative allows you to arrange all of the common Google applications under one banner - yours - and add collaborative functionality similar to Facebook.
Google+ Circles can help you get specific jobs done.
Every meeting planner knows that during the organization period there is so much work to be done that it’s impossible for one or two people to do it successfully. Every week, many people need to be added in addition to all those involved in technical support and logistics. If you sum it all up, it might be a dozen - or more - people who are working on the program, all doing different things, leading in different areas. Everyone has good ideas; Google+ Circles make it easy for you to create subgroups so not everyone is speaking at once.
The more formal systems that you use everyday are often based on templates that are most familiar to you, such as those found in Microsoft Office, whether they be Word, Excel or PowerPoint. These might consist of checklists, worksheets, conference contracts and other vital documents. If you or your organization does not have such a system, or even if it does, your efforts can be enhanced with a set of templates that have been researched and tested extensively by the Convention Industry Council, which offers the CMP designation to meeting planners and has trained 14,000 and counting. Their templates offer a solid understanding of the critical elements that must be considered in the planning process.
Currently they are only available for Microsoft Office. However, soon it will be possible to use at least some of the APEX templates from the Convention Industry Council as part of Google+. “The APEX Standards Review Council (SRC) recognizes that recoding the APEX RFP Workbook to Google Docs would be valuable to many users, particularly in the way Google allows users to easily share and collaborate on files. It’s something the APEX Standards Review Council would like to do in the near future,” said Lawrence Leonard, CMP and COO at the Council.
Coincidentally, both Google Docs and APEX uses the term ‘collection’ to refer to a bin of files storing similar templates and documents. Once you have organized what you need to share, make it available to those in your Circles so they can share back vital information.
Your Circles might revolve around things like finances, program content, accommodation and logistics, transportation, sight seeing, night life and so on. Establishing reliable lines of communication back and forth to the suppliers and participants in each area is a must.
Simply select what type of item you want to share from the top menu; you can also check a box to notify the others about the post via email. (One advantage of this in addition to email is that you can edit your instructions - something many would like to do soon after they have hit the send button.)
Circles seems to be the area where Google+ outshines everyone else. Every time you go to share something, you are prompted as to what Circle you wish to share it with. It’s very easy to create new Circles.
One click of the Google +1 button, and almost anything found on the Internet gets your stamp of approval. Then, if you want to share right away, just add a comment and send it to the right Circles on Google+. Does this have application for meeting planners? This convention directly thinks so!! (See our article MeetingSource.com adding the Google +1 Button to 10,000 listings)
Google Maps - just click “Share” in the Google+ bar at the top of the screen, and whatever you see on Maps is what you’ll see in the sharebox, ready to seen in your Circles - tons of obvious applications here for meeting planners, from meeting site selection to deciding on walking directions to the theme party.
How about photo sharing, especially photos off your phone? Now there’s Google Instant Upload to help you while you're snapping pictures. With your permission, Google+ instantly adds your photos to a private album in the cloud. This way they're always available across your devices, ready to share it with your Circles as you see fit.
What could be easier for sharing event photos (and other documents)? From there, fellow users can comment on the photos, geo-tag and add their own photos as well.
In the future, look for Google+ to become more of a publishing platform - right now Google certainly trails Microsoft and many others in its ability to offer meeting and convention professionals public publishing capabilities. The focus seems to have been ease of use for the end user. There are low level snippets you can easily add to your program's website - calendars, maps and even presentations - see http://www.google.com/webelements.
Finally, you can add the Google +1 button to some of your event's web content to help it stand out and so attendees can recommend and share it within their Circles!
What does it all add up to? In addition to making your job easier, it’s nice to know that the information gained throughout the planning process is stored safely, so you - and everyone you choose - can have access to it in the future.
MPI would like to thank meetingsource.com for assisting with the publishing of quality content for industry professionals. This article originally appeared on meetingsource.com, a site selection directory that recently added the Google +1 button to 10,000 of its listings.
Find related stories on the PlusPoint blog: Google+ for Online Events, Defining Google+
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