How to Begin Your Career as an Event Planner
Good news: it's never too late to become an event planner. Age and background are irrelevant when it comes to making a change and pursuing a planning career. If you've decided to master the art of event planning, the timing couldn't be better.
The event industry forecast is optimistic, and the value of face-to-face meetings is increasing constantly. New professionals are needed to plan engaging events and delight attendees. From concerts and festivals to conferences and brand events, you have a rich territory for learning and experimentation.
The only question you might have is, "Where should I begin?" To help you answer this doubt, we've put together a list of actionable steps you can follow to start your new endeavor.
Offer your services as a volunteer
"Well, that's obvious", you might be thinking. Not so fast. Yes, volunteering at and attending events will help you learn more about planning and logistics. However, this step is essential in your professional development, since the volunteering experience will fuel or (maybe!) revoke your decision to become an event manager.
Planning family parties and birthdays is totally different from running a conference for 5,000 attendees. You either love it or hate it. You can find it only by assisting other planners and understanding if this job is truly for you or not.
Become an autodidact and learn as much as you can
If you want to become an event planner, you have two options: get a professional degree or learn the industry on your own. You can find an abundance of online resources (courses, eBooks, webinars, blog posts, videos, ...) on how to plan and run successful events.
So if you don't know how to start, choose a few online references and experts from whom you could learn. However, being self-taught doesn't have to limit you to just online resources - you can apply for internships or put the knowledge you accumulated into practice by planning your first small event.
Build a powerful network
The thing that sustains our work, as event professionals, is the network we surround ourselves with. Being a newbie will limit your access to good planners from whom you could learn or with whom you could work. However, there are plenty of online groups (check out Facebook) where planners or planning business entrepreneurs discuss their problems and challenges.
As a first step, you could engage with these communities by asking questions, or helping others through your comments. This will help you learn firsthand from the experience of other professionals, and also contribute to your knowledge and start growing your authority.
Work on your social proof
One of the most difficult tasks is to land your first client. There are multiple factors involved. First, you might lack self-confidence and be uncertain about the ways in which you could add value to your clients. Second, your potential clients may doubt your skills, since you are just beginning.
To avoid this from happening, start gathering as much social proof as possible. If you assist an event professional with his or her work, make sure to ask for a testimonial. When you participate in the planning of an event, include it on your resume and webpage. Work on growing your portfolio. This will help you prove your expertise and gain the confidence of your first clients.
Learn how to market yourself
Apart from becoming good at planning events, you'll have to master the art of marketing. People don't magically become your clients. People won't magically attend your event. Whether it's about the event promotion itself or showcasing the value you can add as a professional, you need to develop your marketing skills. There's no other way around than learning how to deliver your messages and how to wisely package the value you have to offer.
Becoming an event professional is a courageous decision. Not everyone can put up with the stress and the demanding work this job requires. However, if you truly love what you do, the results will be incredibly gratifying. Arm yourself with patience and humbleness. The road to success is long, yet if you are consistent in your actions, you'll transform yourself into a real professional sooner than you think.