Event marketing and meeting management firm American Meetings Inc. recently soft-launched a social network designed to showcase new business opportunities available for meeting managers, suppliers, and travel directors and to encourage connections. The social media platform, which is similar in design and functionality to Facebook, is a closed community—applicants are screened to ensure they truly are connected to the meetings industry.

Once approved, American Meetings Network members can share ideas, videos, and photos, and comment, and interact on individual news feeds and in a discussion forum area. As with Facebook, members can follow each other, and search for other members by name. But the heart of it, and the initial reason for developing the network, according to AMI CEO Andy McNeill, is the business opportunities postings area, where members can share full-time and contract meeting planner jobs; travel director opportunities; hotel promotions and site requests; hot dates/hot rates and other supplier special promotions; and hosted-buyer opportunities. Still to come is an opt-in business directory section that will be searchable by city and zip code.

Link to join the network: American Meetings Network

“We saw a lost opportunity with all the requests we were getting from industry suppliers, meeting planners, and travel directors who wanted to interact with AMI and our clients,” says McNeill. “There were too many requests for us to manage.” So AMI created the network as “a place where we could upload our opportunities, and others could also upload their opportunities. A hotel can put up a special promotion, a CVB could list its hosted-buyer program, and it would go to a full network of people instead of just the 25 of us here at AMI.” The network also will put out a weekly digest of hot opportunities and other items of interest for those who prefer not to get real-time e-mail updates.

The network, still in beta-testing phase, currently has around 125 members, though AMI plans to grow it considerably. McNeill says AMI has identified about 65,000 U.S. meeting planners, and another 25,000 or so “adjunct meeting planners”—meaning they are part of a catering or restaurant organization—that AMI will market the platform to once all the bugs are worked out in a month or so.

“It has already met our need to manage the opportunities we had coming in from suppliers and meeting planners and getting that information out to our 250 independent contract meeting planners and travel directors,” says McNeill. “If it takes on a life of its own, so much the better.” And competitors are welcome, he adds. “This is a relationship-oriented business—we already share a lot of contract meeting planners and travel directors with our competitors. We’re stronger together.”