How to take your career to the next step in event planning

Event planning is a great job. The Event Planner gets to do a variety of tasks in their day, including being the brains behind some truly awesome experiences.

Good planners have a keen eye for detail and are focused and dedicated. They also possess excellent negotiation skills and a flair for creativity. Those of us who are passionate about our work will not be satisfied with being “good” planners. We want to achieve greatness.

You can work in any capacity with events. Maybe you’re just starting out, and this is your first “real” job in the industry. Or you’re an experienced planner who’s transitioning from an agency to freelance work. You may want to become the best event manager you can. No matter where you are in your career, innovation and growth will always be the driving force behind this career.

The difference between a good and a great planner is 7 things. Here’s how you can take your career to the next step.

1. Accept the learning curve

It will take you only 30 seconds to do the most important thing to improve your career. To become a more effective planner, you only need to be willing to learn. Do not take this lightly. Openness of heart and mind is the key to unlocking your next career level, no matter what you do. The event planning industry is a constantly evolving field that relies heavily upon technology. Those planners who refuse to learn the best way to plan an event, and are unwilling to be open to new ideas, do themselves and their guests a disservice.

You will always have new skills to learn, and you may not automatically consider them. This brings me to the next point.

2. Diversify your knowledge base

Even if I have said it only once, I have said it a hundred times: Event planners wear many hats. It is expected that we are experts in many areas and have a good working knowledge of everything else. There is no skill or knowledge that you can have as an Event Coordinator. The saying of my father is relevant here: “The More You Know, the More You Know”. This means that there is no useless information. You can plan unique events based on your love of comics or coral reefs. You will be inspired by more information the more you learn. The more diverse your interests are, the greater the chance that you’ll be inspired to create a unique and memorable piece.

There is also no skill that cannot be used at an event. Are you a photographer? Love floral arrangements? You’re a natural at schmoozing. Are you good at building websites? Being crafty?

You can take your career to a new level by focusing on the skills you enjoy and that at first seem unrelated to planning.

3. Plan for Safety

Last month, I had a very candid discussion with Brady Miller. We discussed some of the mistakes that Brady Miller has made over the course of his career. This conversation reinforced my belief that the best planners are always those who have a good grasp of risk management. Miller says that an event planner who doesn’t find risk management to be the most stressful aspect of their job is not doing it right. I agree. Event safety and risk management are important aspects of event planning that attendees don’t see but which affect them directly.

The best event planners spend time making sure that their events are safe. It’s not that you plan unsafe events. But is it possible to be too safe? You can improve your Event Management skills by being more vigilant about the safety of attendees. Make sure you know the safety regulations of your venue. Be mindful of inclement weather, as well as the age and abilities of your attendees. Work with local agencies to ensure that your guests are comfortable and not nervous. When you are decorating, catering, or organizing your event, keep safety in mind. One accident (or lawsuit) can ruin an event for all involved. Keep your attendees happy and safe by knowing the rules.

Start your career as an event planner in Virginia

Virginia, nestled in the eastern United States, is a state known for its historic significance, scenic beauty, and robust business environment, featuring a diverse economy driven by sectors such as technology, defence, aerospace, biotechnology, and government contracting, making it an ideal location for businesses to thrive.

Considering the risk factors that event planners face while operating in Virginia, it is essential to explore the option of errors and omissions insurance. Lawsuits from clients are a significant concern in this profession. By obtaining errors and omissions insurance in Virginia, you can ensure the safety of both your professional trajectory and financial resources.

4. Truly embrace the team

I took part in a Twitter chat a couple of weeks ago that focused on the best ways to motivate people and work as a team. Everyone in the chat agreed that having the right team around you is like magic. You can achieve the same results for yourself as an Event Planner would for your clients by ensuring that you have a team of creative, passionate, and dedicated people around you. Your team is the backbone of your business. Your team should be able to share your vision, your values and add diversity and innovation.

You need the right people to help you plan an event. Invest in yourself and your team. Keep your team informed and involved in the research side of our industry. Attend events with your team. You may not be able to choose your team members, but you can still evaluate your contribution to the dynamic of your team. Do you go the extra mile, and are you helping? 

Are you looking for learning opportunities? Accept your teammates’ criticisms and help offers. Do you manage up and keep the communication lines open, or do you just let them be? The best Event Managers know that events are complex and involve many moving parts. They also understand the importance of nurturing their team.

5. Create or contribute to a blog

I confess to being biased on this one. My business cards state that I am an event planner second and a storyteller in the first place. It’s not my intention to add another thing to your already overloaded plate. But blogging can help you become a more effective Event Planner. You can reap many rewards by starting your own blog or contributing to one that is already established (like this one). You will need to do some research for each blog post that you write. You can’t research an industry enough to be able to write about them without knowing the latest trends.

Blogs are the best way to keep your network informed and to stay connected. I am not kidding. Do you want to go to a conference? Offer to write about it. Do you want to meet a person influential in your industry? Offer to interview the person (no one will say no). You’re right, I asked. Bloggers can be of great benefit to freelance planners. You can position yourself as an industry thought leader by blogging. It will also help you to grow your network and keep you up to date with the latest trends. It is worth the investment of time.

6. Volunteer

This advice is something I often give to novice and aspiring planners, but it also benefits veterans. It’s a good idea to volunteer at another event in order to gain ideas for your own. Pay attention to your feelings as a volunteer and use them to influence the way you train and treat staff at your event. Be aware of what works and doesn’t.

It is a great way to build your network and, more importantly, expand your Rolodex. You can see which venues and vendors you prefer by volunteering. What could be better for you as an Event Planner than to strengthen your network and relationships with vendors? 

Volunteering is a great way to learn and feel good. There is a lot to be said about helping someone else achieve their dreams, especially in a busy job like ours.

7. Get Selfish

I waited to mention this last because I knew that your eyebrows would immediately shoot up. Planning an event is a rewarding job. You spend your time, expertise, contacts and even your own money to make sure the client and attendees have an unforgettable experience. It’s a great thing, but it can also be very taxing. Take some time to be selfish if you want to become a better event manager. You should focus on your mental and physical well-being. Exercise, drink water, laugh often, and get enough sleep.

In this industry, it’s hard to avoid overworking yourself but make sure you take time out for yourself. This doesn’t have to be related to CRM or email. You will perform better at work if you are happier and healthier. Do not give up all of your passions. (See tip number 2 to remind you why) Feel free to develop a few more. Be kind to yourself. Life is an event. As a participant, make sure you get the most out of your experience. You will be rewarded by your clients.

In conclusion

It’s not as difficult as it may seem at first. It is important to do what’s best for you and your team. Keep your event safe and keep an open mind to new ideas. Volunteering your time to learn new skills or creating a blog are great ways to do so. No matter how you choose to do it, as long as your goal is to be the best Event Planner possible, you will achieve greatness!

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