One of the exciting things about working in the event industry is getting the chance to meet with people who are just entering the field. Whether they have formal work experience in another industry or they’re simply entering the industry for the first time, I am always happy to meet with people who are looking to find the best way to break in. After meeting with countless people, I’ve noticed a trend in some of the advice that I give. So, I thought I would share it on the blog for anyone who might find it helpful. Here are the three things I think you need to do before you even consider getting into the event planning.
Often, people who are looking to break into the events industry don’t really know exactly what they’d like to do. And that’s okay. From special events like weddings and birthdays to conferences and trade shows, there are so many ways to get involved. There are also so many roles within the industry. Not everyone is a planner. Some people work for vendors or production companies. My first advice is to spend some time exploring and getting to know what events are really all about. Volunteer for people who are planning all different kinds of events and see what types of events you most enjoy and what roles you like to play. Do you enjoy the Excel sheets? Do you prefer the people interaction? Check out a range of different experiences and then see what resonates with you.
While there are some formal education programs, many in the industry learn by doing. Thankfully, there are so many amazing resources available online. Start looking at some of the popular media outlets like Bizbash, Connect Magazine, Convene Magazine, Event Marketer and the countless others. Read their articles, look up the people who are mentioned, and start to soak in all the information. Also, check out popular industry blogs like the Event Manager blog, Plannerwire, and even mine!
Find a mentor
One of the best ways to get involved in the industry is to find someone who can help bring you in. I honestly don’t believe I would have a successful career in the event industry if it wasn’t for my mentor that I got way back when I was first getting started. She helped me learn about proposals and contracts, and she even helped me to figure out what my niche was. Because of her experience in the industry, I was able to skip a lot of the growing pains that come with starting a new experience. She was able to point me in the right direction when it came to networking events and things/people to know. The best way to find a mentor is to simply ask. Look for someone that you really respect and ask them if they would mentor you. Make sure you take the lead on the relationship – connecting with them on a regular basis, giving them space when their life is busy and making sure that you are getting the best out of your time together. If your mentor doesn’t work out for any reason, it’s completely okay to move on and find someone else who may have more knowledge for you.
These are some of the first things that I would highly suggest when you first think that you’d like to become an event planner. Of course, networking and job search are critical components, but these initial steps will get you on the right path a lot faster. It’s important to know what place in the industry you would like to hold. It gives you something more to pursue and helps people provide you with better resources. Good luck to all of you who are looking to enter the industry!