Most event planners love their job. Various studies and surveys continue to back this statement up year after year. It’s one of the only industries that continually produces happy employees. It’s not so strange when you really think about it. Although it’s a lot of fun, it’s also requires a lot of work, creativity, and innovation. It’s similar to entertainment arts like acting and writing in that there isn’t a specific blueprint to follow on a daily basis. Sure, there are certain musts on your to-do list as an event planner, but each event requires you to turn your vision of it into reality. You may be surprised to hear that not everyone who gets their foot in the door of this industry has an event planning degree- or even a B.A. in communications or liberal arts. Have you ever thought of getting a niche job in party events, but figured it would never happen? Well, with the right know-how and resources, it can. If you’re the life of every party, here’s how to make it into a career.
Breaking into the Business
We don’t mean to make event planning sound simple or easy- in fact, it’s widely considered to be a high stress business job. Event planning is unique in that it requires you to be both a visionary who sees the bigger picture and a slave to details. However, if you have a passion for it, the benefits are usually worth the challenges. That’s why event planning still ranks as one of the best business jobs in the country.
Before you enter the world of event planning, this job has some unique variables to consider. Firstly, the degree of travel involved in this industry varies from career to career. Even if your career does allow for a lot of travel, that can also vary from season to season or even year to year. While some of this depends on your location and fluctuations in the industry, corporate event planners tend to travel more often than planners who work for venues. If the landscape of your dream job stretches far and wide, you’ll have to work your way there. But if you love what you’re doing, passion is a powerful drive. Contrary to what you may have heard, passion for your job is the make or break factor for most event planners.
Salary is another variable. How much money you make as an event planner depends more on experience than education, although an event planning degree or certification can certainly help get your foot in the door. Some event planners take side jobs to increase their salary by the amount of hours worked. Before getting started in the industry, you should make an informed decision about whether you want to work for yourself or a company. If you have a serious interest in event planning, this won’t come as news to you, but success in this industry is heavily reliant on networking. Working for an event planning business can connect you with established clients and go a long way toward facilitating your career. It can also open doors to freelance projects. There’s a good chance that clients of the company or venue you work for will occasionally want to hire event planners on a freelance basis. In fact, this has become a regular practice. Your company’s clients are much more likely to trust you as a freelancer than trust someone totally new.
However, when you work for others, your income is limited to promotions. When you work for yourself, your salary has the potential to become much more flexible. Many self-employed event planners make a name for themselves over time through social media, networking events, and event recruitment agencies. It’s also a viable option to make contacts by gaining experience as an employee first. Recruitment agencies are paid to match event planners with contracts that are a good fit for them.
LinkedIn is an excellent source for event planners who are breaking into the business. Actually, LinkedIn has recently allowed group owners to integrate groups with their own event websites. It used to be that these groups were only usable on Linked In and could not be applied to personal websites. This made it virtually impossible to integrate business and contacts connected to LinkedIn with those established on other platforms or in real time. Now that LinkedIn communities are open to other platforms, the site has become that much more of an asset to event planners- especially those who are just getting started.
How to build a professional network on LinkedIn? Take advantage of group memberships and tune into group discussions, which are filtered by popularity and recency. When you have a group membership, you’ll receive suggestions to join other relevant groups based on your interactions and the information you share on LinkedIn. You’ll have the ability to comment on and follow group discussions, which is a great way to establish useful, rewarding relationships with other industry professionals. And remember, now you can also link all of these benefits to your website, gaining more contacts and exposure.
The best part? All of those LinkedIn benefits are totally free. You can upgrade your LinkedIn membership at any time. Trying to decide upgrading makes sense for you? By paying for an upgrade, you’re mostly gaining access to services that help you actively develop your career rather than do it indirectly by networking. With LinkedIn Premium Career, you can actually get hired through the site. You can also search for and hire event planning talent with Linkedin’s built-in recruitment service. If you recently started your own business (or you’ve been self-employed for a while, but business is lagging), you can receive comprehensive business insights and strategies for expansion from Premium Business. In many ways, upgrading your LinkedIn account is like having access to a continuous conference that keeps you on the cutting edge of the industry. Conferences are designed to teach you new skills and help you improve upon existing ones. With LinkedIn, you can keep up with the constant evolution of trends in event planning.
Looking to gain some experience at the entry level? Sign into LinkedIn and apply for a multitude of assistant or even project manager jobs. When you send your resume and cover letter to companies, describe specific and creative ways in which you would fit into their business’s niche. Ideally, you want to stay as close to the party niche as possible, but that includes a broad spectrum of celebratory events! Honestly, in the beginning, you should take what you can get and develop your own party aesthetic over time. You can make it happen!
Just as you track data pertaining to your event, apply the same strategy to monitoring your business. Is your Linked In traffic mostly made up of people in the business? If so, are professionals in your event planning niche a substantial source of traffic on your page? If not, use Google Ads to search for better keywords to use on your profile page, and apply them.
Tell a Visual Story to Potential Clients
You may have heard that visual storytelling is the new headline. We’re here to tell you that it’s true. And what’s more inviting than a slideshow of ultimate parties? There are dozens of free (or nearly free) online sources and apps to help you create your very own logos and infographics. You want your infographics to become your trademark, so apply them to all of your social media pages and link them to your website. We recommend downloading infographic tools that guide even beginners through the process of creating your own infographics. Piktochart, Cacoo, and Google Charts are great starting points.
Once you’ve got even one or two events under your belt, you can also create a video resume that showcases your past events, giving them character. People tend to be much more drawn to visuals than words alone, especially in the modern overloaded web space. Whether you have party planning experience or not, you can still introduce yourself by uploading videos of yourself speaking about your party niche. When people see and hear you talking, they get a feel and first impression of you that tells them whether they would like to interact with you in person. If you’ve planned just-for-fun parties that you think have star quality, superior aesthetics, and organizational prowess, add them to your introductory video. Then post it on your website and all of your social media accounts, including LinkedIn. This way, established professionals get a visual impression of your style and skill level.
Working Your Way to the Top Means Starting at the Bottom
You don’t become an event party celebrity overnight. No matter how talented or educated you are, experience is still the key that opens the most doors. It’s one thing to be creative on your own time from behind a computer, but event planners who want to work in real time have got to be brilliant under pressure. If you’re a little intimidated by the star-studded event world at first, that doesn’t mean you can’t build social confidence. Again, it comes with experience. If you’re a quick, visionary thinker with a keen eye for detail, you’ve already got a lot to bring to the table. Believe in yourself and walk through ever open door, and we promise those doors will lead to others. With time, the event world will open up to you and you’ll feel a true sense of belonging.
That’s why we recommend taking any entry level work you can get, as long as it’s legitimate and on the up and up. Don’t worry if your first event planning experiences require you to assist the people whose dream jobs you covet. Doing menial or mundane things at the start will build your comfort level in the event world- and your resume. Remember, much of your success relies on your relationships with other, more established professionals. So show initiative, but don’t try to run the show just yet. Contribute your ideas, but respect those of the event professionals you are working for.
Get Busy Making Plans on Social Media!
A lot of entry level event planners start or join Meetups to make contacts and gain experience. Sure, you may not be paid to plan or assist Meetup events, but you’re gaining valuable experience. However, as we mentioned in our “Why Most People Don’t Use Meetup” blog post, there are some pretty big drawbacks to using Meetup. Let’s briefly review the challenges faced by event planners when using the Meetup app. For one thing, Meetup groups vary greatly in size. Larger groups have a tendency to lose focus and become less specific over time, causing event planners to lose some of their niche audience. One would imagine that larger groups reach more people, but that’s not always the case. The bigger Meetup groups make it easy to get lost in the crowd, which often includes more people outside your niche than within it. Smaller Meetup groups, however, have fewer resources and become inactive after short periods of time.
The way the Meetup app is set up, groups aren’t always made up of the same people. Sometimes you join a group, help plan or organize a party, and it goes swimmingly. However, it’s common for people to join a group, attend an event in the party planning niche (or any niche), and find that the group has all new members next week. It’s difficult to make and maintain contacts and relationships in this context.
With the drawbacks of current event platforms, we’ve developed a social media tool that acts as a solution to these problems. As our launch date approaches, we’re excited to present a social media app that does more than curate images. Our app, Plans, was designed to cultivate quality experiences, not merely curate images. This is an approach we believe benefits event planners as much as it does attendees and their friends. One of the biggest trends in event planning right now involves creating customized, interactive experiences for attendees. Plans does all of that and more. Our newsfeed generates events based on the shared interests of users and the friends they add.
Do you have what it takes to personalize your party based on the expressed interests of your niche audience? If so, Plans is the perfect place to start.
Hopefully, we’ve given you some solid ideas to begin with. Remember, breaking into the event planning industry means gaining experience and developing your party niche over time. If you really love this business for all that it is, use your talent- and these trusty tips- to bring your dream to life!