When you’re first deciding how to be an event planner there are many things you need to do.
There’s an overwhelming amount of information and action to take – especially if you’re looking online.
How do you move forward and take stride when you’re just starting in the industry?
First, decide if event planning is right for you. Many newbies love the idea of planning events but they don’t ask themselves, “What is event planning?”
With so many job titles and job descriptions, many people confuse event planning and event management.
What is Event Planning?
Event planning is the process of budgeting, scheduling, choosing a venue or event site, coordinating permits and licenses, arranging entertainment including bands and speakers, and meeting with caterers to choose a menu. The term event planning is used when planning weddings, meetings or parties.
Event Management is the process of overseeing and managing the entire event from start to finish, including the event team and/or volunteers. Typically, event managers have more experience than a planner and manage the entire project. The term event management is usually used when referring to large-scale events like festivals, conferences, or concerts.
Regardless of which title you choose to give yourself, there are 3 key qualities that an event planner must have to succeed.
- Time Management – you must be able to coordinate multiple schedules at once, in order to be a successful event planner.
- Resourcefulness – thinking quickly on your feet is critical to planning events – no matter what size – because even the best laid plans don’t always go as planned and you’ll need to know how to seamlessly fix issues without your client or the event guests knowing.
- Budgeting – one of the most important skills to have as an event planner, yet often ignored because many of us like the creative side of event planning more than dealing with the bottom line. However, in order to be a successful event planner and make a profit, you must know your numbers. If budgeting scares you, sign up for a class at a local college to learn the basics.
3 Reasons Event Planning is Not For You
What if you love planning events but you aren’t sure it’s the right career path for you?
Giving yourself permission to plan events on the side or for fun is absolutely OK, but if you’re wondering if it should be a full-time job, ask yourself if you struggle with these 3 skill busters.
- Procrastination – if you’ve been dabbling in event planning for more than 6 months, this may not be the right career choice for you. Taking action quickly, being responsive and decision-making is all part of the job.
- Discretion – lacking discretion and understanding how and when to send client updates is fundamental. If you feel the need to update your client about ever (little) detail when you should spend time fixing problems and/or finding solutions, event planning is not right for you.
- Listening Skills – not having the ability to listen and understand client needs leads to mistakes and bad decisions. Effectively listening to your clients, vendors and team makes your job a lot easier.
I want you to hear Sarah’s story.
Sarah started her event planning business earlier this year and she’s still employed by someone else. Sarah is trying to shift from being an employee to planning events full time.
At work, colleagues and clients surround her all day so she’s worried that she’ll miss her built-in social life, but the desire to make a bigger impact on her life and her community drives her to work while she’s building her event planning business.
Sarah also fears she won’t be able to make her business profitable and make enough money to support her family.
Taking the leap into full-time entrepreneurship can be challenging, especially when you know you have a steady income. One of the biggest obstacles that holds most aspiring event planners back from starting their business is the fear of not making enough money.
Having a job while you’re building your event planning business is a great way to bring in money and keep yourself on track financially while you build your business on the side.
Start Your Event Planning Business
If you’re in a similar situation, use your day job to keep a roof over your head and to learn valuable business skills that you’ll need in your event business. Watch today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV and learn 4 ways your day job can help you build a sustainable event business.
Are you ready to plan events, but do you stop yourself because you’re struggling to figure out how to get started and get the experience you need?
In today’s brand new episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV, serial entrepreneur and one of the most generous people I’ve ever met, Tuan Nguyen, sits down with me to discuss how to get started in event planning by volunteering.
The tips Tuan shares in this video aren’t like any you’ve heard before so take notes!
How To Get Started In Event Planning By Volunteering
Whether you’re looking for an event planning job or you have our own event business, volunteering makes you a stronger candidate for the job and improves your chances of behind hired.
Volunteering for events helps you acquire skills and knowledge, network, and improves your decision making skills. Additionally, it shows that you’re motivated and hard-working, and many organizations hire volunteers because of a job well-done and because of the established relationship.
Tuan and I realize that it’s not as easy as it sounds to get started in event planning by volunteering. However, getting in front of your ideal event clients and involved in your community is the perfect way to get experience and build your rolodex (nobody born after 1985 will know what that is!). It also helps you expand your network to people you ma not otherwise meet.
If you’ve been wondering how to break into the event planning industry, or get in front of potential clients, today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV is for you.
Are you scared this will happen to you…?
You see someone that you’d love to work with, someone whose event you’d love to plan.
You strike up a conversation, but it’s ‘normal’ boring, small talk.
You want to change the tone of the conversation and tell them all about your event planning services and the skills you have so they hire you to plan their event.
Then you realize you don’t feel confident enough to talk about your event experience or skills. You’re not even sure your experience counts because you haven’t been paid to plan an event!
Here’s the big secret: Confidence comes from experience and learning.
Confidence doesn’t just happen. Clients don’t just fall into your lap. It takes an investment in yourself.
And if you ask hundreds of event planners what makes them successful, they’d tell you that they invest in themselves and they focus on their education.
They took time to learn about their clients, how to specialize and why it’s important to their success, how to properly prepare an event budget and understand accounting basics so they could stay on track, and how to price their event properly so they (actually) make money.
Online Event Planning Courses
If you’re anything like me, you don’t need to be convinced that education is a great investment to make in yourself. And, thanks to the Internet, you can learn how to be an event planner from the comfort of your home. But, when it comes to online event planning courses, how do you narrow your search so you choose the right one for you?
Watch today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV to find out…
During my time as a senior sales rep, I developed my listening skills to help me work through sales objections. Listening is a critical skill when it comes to working with your event clients and getting hired.
Being able to quickly handle objections helps you maintain a flow in the conversation and shows your client that you’re listening and understand what they’re saying.
While there are many effective ways to generate sales leads, following up is critical to your success. Following up is not pushy or sales-y, it’s part of sales and a must-do if you want to get hired.
Here are two event planning call scripts to help you follow up with your sales leads.
Event Planning Call Scripts
Hi, Andrew. Michelle here from Beautiful Event Management.
Do you have 5 minutes to speak right now?
Andrew, I’m sure you’re busy and I want to respect your time, so I’ll be brief.
The reason for my call is this. I enjoyed meeting you at the event last night and hearing your hilarious stories about your travels.
I don’t know if you have a need for our event services at the moment, but I’d like to take you out for coffee to discuss and see if there is anything I can do to help you grow your business (plan your wedding, raise funds for your fundraiser, etc).
Do you have 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon? I’d be happy to buy you a coffee to learn more about your business (wedding plans, charity, etc)
Hi, this is Michelle from Beautiful Event Management.
How are you?
I am calling to follow up after we met at the XYZ event (coffee shop, friend’s house, etc) .
I’d love to buy you a coffee to learn more about your business (wedding, fundraiser, etc) so I’m wondering if you have 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon to meet?
I provide companies with event services specializing in corporate affairs (weddings, fundraisers, etc) and may be able to offer some assistance for your event needs.
Even if you don’t have an event coming up, I’d still love to meet to see how I can help you.
Before we get into today’s video on how to start an event planning career with no experience, I want to share a story with you. This took place when I was just getting started in event planning…
One time at an event I was attending, I met a woman who was tapped into the PR scene in the city where we both lived.
She had amazing connections and seemed to know everyone in town.
When she found out I was a “meeting planner” she mentioned that she’d been asked to promote an event and was curious about my services.
She invited me to have a drink with her to discuss the details and see if I’d be a good match for her clients.
After all, she wasn’t going to refer me if she wasn’t comfortable with me.
But, I didn’t have a business set up to promote (I was in the process but it wasn’t legit yet)
I said yes anyway. 😉
I was so nervous to meet her that I paced around my house for an hour and practiced saying (in$ert my fee here) into the mirror.
It seemed so ridiculous at the time.
But then I put mind over matter and focused on what I knew a lot about.
I showcased the events I’d worked on for other companies, for friends and family and at the end of our meeting I got up and left without knowing if I was going to get hired or even referred.
Then I decided to send a follow up email to thank her for meeting with me and to ask if she had any questions.
I didn’t hear back for 2 (very long!) days.
On the 3rd day I decided to follow up with her to see if she’d made a decision…
I GOT THE EVENT!!
That was the most excited I’ve ever felt.
I was doing my happy dance around the house (think Elaine from Seinfeld ;-)) and screaming with joy.
But what really got me excited was the fact that I was persistent without being too sales-y and coming across as desperate.
Nobody likes sales-y
To this day, I always say, ‘Persistence Pays’.
This was what I needed all along.
Start Your Event Planning Career
How did I go from a newbie with no business knowledge to start an event planning career?
In today’s video on EventPlanning BlueprintTV, I share 3 strategies that you can use right now to start an event planning career with no experience.
In this webinar, Michelle gives you some insights into obstacles to overcome when starting your event planning career. Thank you so much to Michelle from Wild Orange Events for sharing her experience and her struggles.
Is An Event Planning Career Right For You?
How To Stay Within Your Event Budget
Planning a wedding or another major event can be expensive. The average cost of a wedding is moving closer and closer to $30,000. Even large parties like an anniversary or graduation party can cost thousands of dollars. If you plan a corporate event, the cost can go up exponentially.
As a party planner, it’s important to work with your clients to stay on budget while also planning the event of their dreams.
5 tips to help you stay on budget
Before you can create a budget, you need to have a good idea of what things cost. You may be shocked to learn what catering costs, or you may have had no idea that a photographer could cost so much. Call around to get a few estimates based on some standard details, or do an online search to get a ballpark for what others have paid in your area. Once you have that information, you can get a rough idea of what you might like to spend for each item on your party planning checklist.
Create an Overall Budget Amount
Start by determining how much you can afford for your event. Create a couple of amounts: Set the amount you’d like to spend, and set the amount that you could spend if you stretched things a bit. By having a budget range, you will have some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. You’ll also give yourself some flexibility to indulge if you find a more expensive caterer that you love or you decide you want to spring for a nicer venue.
Create Estimates for Each Category
Break down your budget into categories for each item you will need for your event. For example, a typical event planning checklist for a wedding would include things like catering, venue, wedding cake, the officiant, flowers and wedding attire. Create a range for each budget item, ensuring that the total still falls within your overall budget range.
I’d say that many of my biggest accomplishments have come from having the support of an event mentor. Someone to guide me, answer my questions and steer me in the right direction when I needed it.
This has been true throughout my career as I learned how to be an event planner and a business owner and I now consider many of my event mentors to be friends and each have had a profound impact on me personally and professionally.
Event Planning is one of the hottest professions to choose, so how do you learn how to be an event planner?
How To Be An Event Planner
We live in an age where it seems like one out of every five people have either become event planners or have at least entertained the idea. Sometimes the notion is born out of an existing food service business that branches out into catering, and soon realizes the money to be made by grabbing the reins of the whole operation and simply farming out any such areas with which they are unfamiliar. And if you take a closer look, you’ll see that almost every restaurant, from the five star bistros to the drive-thru burger establishments is now advertising their availability to cater any event. Event production and catering are currently among the very hottest ambitions for any establishment that serves food.
WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BE AN EVENT PLANNER?
With so many foodies rolling up their sleeves and taking their wares on the road in large trucks to Anywhere USA, what we have is an indiscernible sea of outstretched arms waving the likes of hot dogs and balloon animals above the heads of the madding crowd. It’s important to recognize, however, that there are always going to be specific methods of operation and measures of the finest hospitality that will evermore serve to set apart the true professionals from the wannabes.
THE DEFINING DISTINCTION
The first thing every aspiring hopeful needs to thoroughly process about this whole industry is that not a fine line but a chasm exists between the folks who are only engaging in event planning to increase their revenue and those doing it because they have somehow inherited the hospitality gene and can’t shake it. The main reason is that it’s hard work. Successful event engineering requires the highest degree of professionalism and timing. It requires someone who has excellent people management skills, as the event planner must rely on the professionalism of others for pretty much every single element and detail of every event.
Shadowing an event planning mentor is not something that should be attempted outright, as this industry is highly competitive. No event planner in their right mind would simply hand over all their tips and tricks to someone posing to take what they’ve learned away and become a competitor. The effort to accomplish the discovery process must be both indirect and discreet.
A good way to learn how to be an event planner is to become a team member of an event planning-related organization. There are numerous aspects from which to choose, however if you are not already employed in some type of business that provides goods or services of particular value for an event, it’s too late to become an aficionado. The best entry point is to become involved in the catering end of events. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be serving food or sweet tea. Catering involves the bulk of the work of any event, as typically, the caterer will also set up the seating, and if the event is held outdoors, tents and portable restrooms, too. Truck drivers are often needed, as well as people to handle practically every other aspect of the ambiance of the event. The thing is, once on the “inside,” someone who is aspiring to learn the ropes of event planning will have every opportunity to pull it off.
THE REQUIREMENT OF FIVE STAR LEADERSHIP SKILLS
The best event planners focus on finding reliable, extremely talented and dedicated professionals to bring in outside services to their events. Without these, an event planner is like a one-man-band: entertaining for a few minutes, but “where’s the entree?” From the outside, this may initially like it wouldn’t be all that difficult to finagle, however there are few things in life which are more difficult. Once again, event planning involves good people management skills. These skills include the ability to not only engage the services of highly creative individuals, but to effectively relate with them in a way that always portrays the event planner as someone who pays well but can always replace them.
ESTABLISH GOOD VENDORS AND LEARN HOW TO KEEP THEM
Successful event planning requires that the person at the helm have a sizeable and established list of vendors for all types of occasions, and good contacts for everything else. This means establishing purposeful relationships with everything from fire-swallowers and illusionists to horse and carriage providers and hot air balloonists. Being able not only to provide the wildest whims of any client, but exceeding them and amazing the client will always result in an ongoing and profitable relationship for both parties.
WHAT THE CLIENT RECEIVES
The leading event planners understand that their job is to provide their clients (with venues of all sizes) with a full sense of confidence that their particular event will make a spectacular impression on every attendee. It’s almost like becoming Santa Claus for the adult world. And then, no matter what occurs, what fails, what goes askew, the event planner will always provide a solution, another option, and thus ensure the continued success of not only the event, but also of the event planner’s career. The client of a successful event planner will dive right in to hosting any type of event once this relationship has been rightly established.
IN THE BLOOD
Last word? Event planning, if successful, is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a commitment to excellence, a resilient disposition, a “never say die” attitude and the ability to lead others. If someone is motivated by the aspiration to provide others with the “time of their lives,” and is willing to do the work required to pull that off, then it’s time to consider event planning.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
What skills or knowledge do you think it takes to learn how to be an event planner?
Remember, we love hearing from you but links to outside posts and videos are considered SPAM and will be removed. 🙂
As always, thanks for joining our global community of event planners and for commenting and sharing these posts.
Our webinar, “Is Event Planning Right For You?” was a great success.
If you were unable to attend, you can watch it here as Event Planner and Business Owner, Addie-Graham-Kramer, shares how to get experience in event planning, what skills you need, how to discuss ‘budget’ with your client, and more.