A village feast to welcome
home hunters in the wilds of Borneo and a glittering fund-raiser soiree
at a swanky New York hotel may not sound like they have much in common,
but they do have at least one similarity.
Someone, somewhere, got the
ball rolling and using a little resourcefulness, creativity and sheer
determination successfully pulled off a spectacular event. (Well,
someone had to figure out how much food and drink was required at the
feast and where the chief would sit!) That person is an event planner.
If event planning sounds
like it could be your dream career, here are 7 steps to become an event
planner, based on the
FabJob Guide to Become an
Event Planner by Jan L.
Riddell, Carol Palmatier and Peter J. Gallanis.
Before you quit your day job
to become an event planner, take the time to honestly assess your
current skills to ensure you have what it takes to succeed as an event
Event planners must be
creative and well organized, but they must also have excellent
interpersonal skills. Events are about people, so successful event
planners must be able to effectively listen to what clients want,
develop relationships and negotiate with vendors (companies that supply
products and services for events). TIP:
If you’re creative and have great people skills,
but could use some help getting organized, event planning software
is available to help you keep track of event details.
2. Learn How
to Plan Events
Almost all events have common
components such as some type of meal or refreshment, a form of
entertainment or speaker, invitations or registrations, etc. The event
planner is the person who pulls all of the components together.
There are excellent resources
available to help you learn how to plan events and assist with each
stage of event planning including how to: choose a date, decide who to
invite, budget, create timeline schedules, work with vendors, and market
events. If you want a formal education, many colleges offer degrees or
certificates in event planning. If you would rather break into event
planning without a formal education, you can quickly learn how to plan
events with books such as the
FabJob Guide to Become an Event
The easiest way to learn about
the steps involved is through personal experience (i.e. planning events
for family and friends).
Non-profit groups are always
looking for help with their fundraisers and galas, and you’ll get the
double benefit of helping a worthy cause while you hone your skills.
This is also an excellent way to make contacts in the community to help
you land a paying job when you are ready.
You could also volunteer to
organize events at your own workplace, if you have one. For example, if
your company has a public relations department that is notoriously
short-staffed, offer to help them out. The beauty of this plan is that
you will be learning a new career while still being paid at your old
4. Create a
A portfolio is a collection of
samples of your work, plus any other documents that can show people why
they should hire you. A portfolio helps you stand out from other
applicants, and prove that you have the skills to do the job. Your
portfolio might include pictures, recommendation letters and anything
else that shows prospective clients and/or employers what you have done
or can do.
Material for your portfolio
can come from any event you have organized (such as a family reunion,
birthday bash, etc.) or from ideas and themes you have for future
events. Show your best work and don’t worry about giving away your
great ideas. People will believe you have many more brilliant ideas
that you haven’t yet divulged.
Hired as an Event Planner
Getting hired as an event
planner (even if you plan on opening your own event planning business)
will give you invaluable contacts and referrals for the future. Meeting
and convention planners are projected to have faster than average job
growth in the coming years. This is good news for the industry and for
Companies that hire event
planners include hotels or resorts, non-profit organizations, convention
centers, country clubs, and even fun destinations like theme parks!
Some people work their way
into a position as their company’s event planner just by volunteering to
organize internal events such as company picnics and meetings.
Your Own Event Planning Business
If the idea of being your own
boss and earning up to $100,000 or more per year as an event planner
sound appealing, it may be time to take the plunge and set up an event
planning business. Many event planners have home-based businesses,
which makes this type of business inexpensive to start. With the wealth
of information available on starting a business you should be able to
get your own event planning business off the ground quite easily.
When starting your own
business, you should consider what types of events you want to plan. If
you have a flair for the spectacular you may want to tackle proms,
charity events and galas. If you prefer planning corporate events, you
may choose to plan meetings, conventions, and the like. TIP:
Unsure of what type of event you’d prefer to plan?
Consider interning or working for a number of companies whose
specialties are quite different.
Relationships with Vendors
You’ve probably heard the
adage “it’s not what you know but who you know”. The most important
relationships you will build as an event planner are with the vendors
for your events. These are companies that supply products and services
for events, such as caterers, florists, equipment rental companies,
hotels, photographers, etc.
Learn about each one’s
business by conducting informational interviews and ask about discounts
they can offer you. Be polite and courteous with the owners and their
staff and always follow up afterwards with some sort of acknowledgement
or thank you. You can also arrange to have vendors refer clients to your
event planning business.
You can continue to learn and
grow after you have become an event planner. One of the best ways to
succeed as an event planner is to look upon every social occasion or
event you attend as an opportunity to learn. Make a mental note of what
worked well and what bombed. Attend tradeshows, read everything you can
related to event planning, and watch for what’s hot. Seek out the
advice of trendsetters and don’t be afraid to try something a little
different. You may start a trend yourself.
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