You might be asking yourself, “How do I get into event planning”? Allow me to let you in on a little secret: there isn’t one tried and true path that magically leads you to a career in events. That probably wasn’t the answer you were hoping for. But, there are several steps that you can take to kickstart a career in events today.
1. Get your knowledge on
Education is a great way to gain foundational knowledge of the events industry and the overall hospitality industry as well. There are dozens of colleges and universities that now offer degrees in related fields, stand-alone event courses, meetings destinations, and certificate programs. These courses and tracks are taught by professionals in hospitality and events who are able to not only discuss the facts but also share personal anecdotes.
This educational foundation is a great way to differentiate yourself from other job seekers. You’ll stand out because you made the investment in specialized training. It’s also a great way to open your eyes to all the possibilities of the industry.
2. Parlay all experience into relevant experience
Years ago, a professor told me that all hospitality experience is relevant experience. And it is a sentiment that I have carried with me throughout my career thus far.
Cultivating a diversified experience portfolio allows you developed a varied set of skills, which helps you to bring new perspectives to event planning discussions. Do you have food and beverage experience? Utilize your relationship building skills, food and nutrition knowledge or multitasking ability. Do you have retail experience? Tap into your ability to understand the consumer’s needs, wants and motivations to design the perfect experience, product or service.
Experiences outside the realm of events can be valuable as long as you recognize the transferable, soft skills that are associated with that job. Talk through how those skills compliment the events you want to create and plan.
3. Consider both sides of the coin
Just as there are two sides to a coin, there are two mindsets that professionals in events must be able to tap into: their logical side and their creative side.
Logic and logistics are the backbones of events. At the end of the day, if your event is not feasible, does not offer an understandable structure for the attendees or is disorganized, the creative elements and aesthetics of your event, no matter how grandiose, will be lost on the consumer. You need to first be able to tap into the side of your brain that allows you to dig into the nitty gritty of planning. Questions like, ‘how does your budget breakdown?’ ‘what is the structural layout of the room you’re designing?’ or’ what is the most effective flow pattern for the banquet?’ call for the ability to think and plan logically.
However, on the flip side, event planners need to also have the ability to think creatively. This mindset is useful when creating your visual aesthetic, developing event themes, or designing graphics. How your event looks and what your attendees experience while at your event are more effective and more memorable when you use creativity to differentiate your event from others. Use tools like a customized event planning check list to help manage complicated logistics.
4. Think outside the box
When it comes to hunting for jobs within events, don’t limit yourself. All types of organizations hold events and are looking to hire professionals that are capable of planning them and getting attendees to experience them.
Though some view these as antiquated, understanding the acronyms MEEC and SMERF are a great way to help you remember all the options that are out there in the events industry. The first acronym stands for meetings, expositions, events and conventions markets. The second stands for social, military, educational, religious and fraternal markets. These two acronyms outline the various sectors of the industry that an event can fall within. These can break down further as well. For example, under social events fall weddings, bridal showers, birthday parties and family reunions. You would be doing yourself a disservice by not recognizing how vastly saturated the overall global job market is by events.
Whether you’re working for a pharmaceutical company and planning their annual convention or working for a small restaurant that plans and hosts social events, you are still gaining valuable experience within events.
5. Make a connection
If you take nothing else from this article, just remember that the number one way to kickstart your career in events is to network, network, network!
In hospitality and events, it’s all about who you know and who knows you. It’s important to put yourself out there, to go to networking events hosted by hospitality organizations, introduce yourself in a professional manner, make smart conversation, and follow up. Networking is all about establishing meaningful relationships with other professionals and up keeping those relationships.
Networking is not a one-sided street; you can’t expect others to continuously help you. It will take effort on your part to reach out and keep the conversation open and relevant. You never know who people are connected to. And whether or not someone you’ve networked with could help you find your next big break!
Remember, there is no one answer for the age old question, “How do I get into event planning?”. Attaining that position takes perseverance and dedication in all you do – so does having a substantial resume with marketable, transferable skills. And even though there isn’t a sure-fire track, applying those five tips to your life will bring you that much closer to your career goals in events.
How did you get into events? Tell us your story on Twitter @socialtables!