Event planning is a cool job to have but hard to execute and make a living out of it. The event planning business is a grey area which only a limited number of experts know in and out. This post will hopefully help you become an event planner if that's your aim.
There are five basic skills you need as an event planner. You don't have to go to a specific school, follow a specific course or education on event planning. One gains event planning education through experience and actual projects. Planning can be quite needy and hard at times, and that's where real-life experience help.
An event planner who makes money out of selling events is no less than an entrepreneur. It's different and a bit harder than working as an event planner on payroll for a company which pays a set salary every month. Either way, you need to gain experience and basic knowledge. The five essential points that every event planner should have are: Learning how to plan, listening skills, managing the finances, creativity, and nerves of steel.
Networking is the most effective strategy for event planners to find new clients (66%), with a significant share attained through social media (45%). (EventMB, 2018).
Learn How To Plan
You need to know about planning. Though it's obvious, several event planners are not able to plan. As an event planner, you have strict deadlines and you should hit those deadlines earlier rather than later. A lot of event planners think they can delay a bit but that's equal to inviting the client's wrath. Event planners tend to procrastinate. And procrastination leads to difficulties. So, you need to plan well not just for yourself but also your team and clients. If you come across any course (online or offline) on "how to plan", enroll in it at the earliest.
A lot of people go into the event planning business with their perception of what a good party or event looks like. You should bring in your ideas but by in the end, your client needs to be happy with your services while you cater to their needs. If your client comes to you and says, "Oh, I want a balloon themed party, ' and you bluntly disagree to the idea, it means you are not listening to the client. A client's requirement has to be met; after all, you're being paid for meeting certain expectations.
Add your creativity while adhering to the customer's core requirements. The event is meant for the customer and he or she needs to be happy.
You need to be good with finances. A lot of event planner don't know about managing money. As an event planner, you work with a tight budget. It's good to be cool and awesome while planning the event but don't go overboard with the budget. You always need to have an emergency fund to bank on if things go awry.
For example, if you order a cake and the baker doesn't show up, you need to have some extra money to order an alternative. If you do not have basic finance skills, work on them immediately. Your clients will be pissed if they are forced to spend more than their budget.
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Creativity is the secret sauce. Through creativity, event planners can find solutions on the spot when everyone else is flipping out. As an event planner, you often troubleshoot when least expected, even though you assume everything is planned well. Your clients can turn the course of the entire event in five minutes before and you have to be creative to solve such issues.
What if the caterer turns up late? You arrange for quick bites. Electricity gone? The generator you had as backup comes to the rescue. The scenarios are innumerable. And you can't prepare for all of them. However, even a small attempt at mitigating the effects goes a long way.
Nerves Of Steel
The last skill you need is having nerves of steel. As an event planner, you organize the entire event and also lead the way for others. You need to be strong enough to handle client criticism.
You need to be disciplined to ensure your team does what is to be done and they are not slacking off. If something goes wrong, you bear the brunt as the lead. You need to have nerves of steel to tackle situations when you or your team members get stressed out due to unforeseen circumstances.
A lot of event planners start to buckle under stress. That's when events go wrong. Learn to keep calm in the midst of the storm because everyone looks up to you to make the event a success.
Research About Event Planning
Now on to the business side of being an event planner. Go and check how many event planners are in your region, what kinds of events they are planning, does it make sense for you to start planning the same type of events, etc. If there are three planners specializing in kids' parties, is a fourth one needed?
So go and research how many planners are in your area, what do they work on, and the potential clients in the area. If you live in an area where an event planner would be a luxury and people don't have money to hire an event planner, you will only sit at home and be frustrated. After all, people won't be able to afford your services.
If you want to be a freelance event planner or as a workforce member, you need to do your research first. When it comes to finding potential clients. figure out if you want to work b2b so business to business or b2c (business to customer).
Finally, you have all of your event planning skills in the pocket - you know your target group, your market, how many event planners are there in your area, and potential clients. But it only matters when you have real-time experience. If you don't have event planning experience, start by organizing small parties and events for friends. Do such events for free or a small fee and then start using their references for your portfolio.
So let's say your best friend is having a baby and she needs a baby shower just ask her, "Can I get your budget for the party? let me organize it because I would love to. The only favor in return is a review on my planning." Ensure you get enough footage like pictures and videos of the party you organized because that's going to build your first portfolio item which you can then show to paying clients.
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If you have no event planning experience, start helping out here and there. If you can get an internship, grab it. You can learn a lot from an event planner that's been in the business for a long time. Sometimes you start two to three months ahead and there is a lot of turning wheels you need to keep an eye on.
Do your homework. Make sure your basic event planning and organization skills are up to the mark before you start setting events. Otherwise, bad reviews are inevitable and that's not good for your business.
Specialize In Event Planning
It's better to specialize in a certain type of event. For instance, you may plan a kids party. But if you are not into kids and have a "it's another job" mindset, it will never be as amazing as planning a press event or a company party (you are passionate for such types of events). You may initially take up all kinds of events in the beginning, but there will be a time when you'll have to specialize.
To make sure there are enough events for you to sell, it's a good idea to specialize in a certain type of event. You can be a wedding planner, kids party planner, company event planner, or press event planner. If you are have public relations experience, you could easily cross over into PR events. There are so many events like hen parties, bachelor parties. You can even plan funerals.
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Specializing in an event sets you off from the crowd and it will help you sell that event without too much competition. Figure out if there is anyone that is doing the same type of event that you want to specialize in.
Get Practical As An Event Planner
You need to get yourself a website, you need to start posting the reviews you get from friends, smaller jobs, or employer. Add photos, videos and other graphics that reflect the assignments you have taken up. People need visuals to rate an event planner.
Documenting every step in the way is a good idea to get your event planning business off the ground. Create a workflow that fits you. Make sure your workflow has your clients face minimal or no stress. The same goes for you. Your workflow needs to be smooth, it should be a template to quick-start planning events.
Hope you liked these tips on how to become an event planner. There's too much grey area in this space and this post should serve as a good start.