Imagine having an exciting high-paying job that lets you use your creativity to organize fun and important events. Welcome to the world of event planning!
An event planner is, quite simply, someone who organizes an event. While we generally think of an event as something grand and spectacular, any occasion where people gather – weddings, festivals, grand openings, meetings, reunions – need someone to ensure their social success. This is where you come in! And the good news for aspiring planners is that the job requires no formal training or education; event planners generally rely on natural talent, creativity and determination to succeed.
As long as you have the desire, you can become an event planner. No special education or experience is necessary to break into this career and succeed. If event planning sounds like the career of your dreams, here are ten steps to follow based on the Guide to Become an Event Planner:
1. Learn about the profession: “Event planner” is a broad term that encompasses everything from corporate meeting planners to wedding specialists to catering and hospitality coordinators. Spend some time initially reading books, searching online and talking to working event planners to see what areas interest you the most, and to become familiar with what is expected of you on the job.
2. Take stock of your talents: Successful event planners combine excellent interpersonal skills with organizational ability to find out exactly what their clients want, and get the job done. Other key talents include resourcefulness (accomplishing what you set out to do in the face of challenges) and a creative flair or an artistic nature that sets your skills apart from the competition.
3. Educate yourself: While no degree is necessary to become an event planner, areas of study (which you may already have) that impress potential employers and clients in this field are public relations, marketing, advertising, human resources, business, and retailing, as well as hotel and restaurant management, hospitality and tourism. If you want to strengthen your skills and supplement your natural abilities, degree programs are available specifically in event management, as well as industry educational seminars and at-home study courses.
4. Develop your materials: Before you begin job-hunting, you will want to organize your self-marketing materials so that they present you at your best. If your resume is lacking in actual experience, try volunteering to work with an event planner or organize a smaller, local event on your own. Make sure you ask those involved to write letters of recommendation for you to show your future employers or clients. Take pictures of all your work, and use them in your portfolio to demonstrate what you have done, and can do, for your clients' or potential employers’ events.
5. Find out who’s hiring: In addition to job advertisements (found on related job boards and classified ads), you should also directly contact organizations you wish to work for. Larger businesses, associations and not-for-profits, universities and municipalities all have a need for event planners, as do hotels, tourism bureaus, casinos, cruise lines, theme parks, and event planning firms themselves. Be creative in your job search – the simple question, "Who plans your meetings and events?" can open doors in the unlikeliest of places.
6. Interview success: Prepare for the interview by thoroughly researching the company. This will help you be prepared for their questions and to also know what questions to ask yourself. Have your portfolio and other materials with you and be prepared to discuss them at length. Remember that your choice of dress can give you an opportunity to show that you are both professional and creative, so put some thought into your appearance. During the interview, use confidence and enthusiasm to sell yourself and your talent. Above all, relax and be yourself!
7. Setting up your own business: When you think you're ready, self-employment could be the next exciting step in an event-planning career. In fact, many people break into the event-planning field with this goal in mind. You will want to look into the financial and legal aspects of the venture, and study the market and your competition so you are ready for the challenges that await you. Decide on an image you want to project to your clients and market yourself accordingly, using a variety of media.
8. Finding clients: Your main source of business will likely fall into one of two categories: corporate or social. Your local chamber of commerce can be a great resource to find the contacts in the corporate world and word-of-mouth is generally your best bet for social clients. Promoting yourself for free (through seminars, newspaper columns, etc.) is a cheap and effective way to let people know who you are and what you do, and their referrals may lead to even more work for you.
9. Networking: You can have the best ideas and be the most creative, perfect person for the job, but without the right contacts, you might as well stick to throwing birthday parties for your family! Plan to attend trade shows, join clubs and organizations and socialize as much as possible to meet potential clients and business contacts. Get comfortable talking about what you do to everyone you meet, and always hand out your business cards.
10. Boosting Your Creativity: The more events you do for one client or company, the more challenging it gets to generate fresh ideas. When you need a boost, turn to TV and movies, retail stores (for materials), consumer magazines, the Internet, or even a walk in nature to reawaken your senses and inspire you to new creative heights. Your suppliers can also be a source of innovative ideas (that use their products, of course!) Maintaining your creative edge is essential to staying on top of your game in this business, so seek inspiration constantly. Click Here to Discover How to Become an Event Planner by Jill Snodgrass