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?
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As always, thanks for joining our global community of event planners and for commenting and sharing these posts.
P.S. Interested in learning how to be an event planner? Learn more here.