Planning events for a living sounds like a dream – right? Fancy menus, theming and decor, awesome entertainment, uber cool venues, A-list parties and sought-after guests lists… While it does have it’s perks, success in this fast-paced field takes more than just a love of a great party. You’ve got to have an eye for detail, an ability to handle constant deadlines and pressure, stamina to work long hours and creativity to transport guests to whatever adventure you want to take them on.
Does the reality I’ve described above scare or excite you? If it’s the latter, I want to help you fast-track your success. Below, you’ll find my top 5 tips to break into the events industry:
Volunteer – It’s a Win-Win For Everyone
Volunteering is a great way to gain invaluable skills, knowledge, and contacts while helping others at the same time. It offers the perfect platform to experience a range of different events which can help you decide the direction and type of company you want to work for. To reduce overwhelm, start locally. Jump online and look up your local Council, community clubs, and Chamber of Commerce etc. Most organizations, whether they’re charitable, corporate or community-based, will list their upcoming events on their website and social media pages so this information should be easy to find. Once you’ve got your list, reach out with a personalized email, introduce yourself and offer your services – you’ll be surprised how many organizations take you up on it.
It’s Time To Hit The Books
While the delivery of events is hands-on, the theory and practices you’ll learn while studying will prove to be invaluable once you begin coordinating. In a field that’s so incredibly competitive, unless you’ve got a little black book of decision-making contacts who can provide intro’s and get you your ‘in’, often having or not having the relevant education, can be the deciding factor as to whether your resume even gets read. Once you’ve got the job, don’t stop there. Continue to upskill by completing specialized courses and attending industry conferences.
True story… While studying, one of my teachers told my class that none of us would ever get a job if companies didn’t know we existed. Such a simple and obvious statement, but I’d never thought of it like that before. That night, I updated my resume, googled event management companies and sent a bunch of them personalized emails to introduce myself. Six months later, I received a call from one of those companies wanting me to interview for a full-time role. After three interviews, I got the job and stayed there coordinating a number of different large scale international shows for the next two and a half years!
Every Day I’m Hustlin’
Let’s be honest, networking is the worst. You start with the best of intentions. You see the invite, it looks like it could be fun, you know you should go, so in that split second gung-ho moment, you register or purchase your ticket. Then the day of the event arrives. You’ve got a million tasks on your to-do list, you start thinking about walking into a room of strangers and before you know it, you’re sitting on your couch watching The Real Housewives of any city instead. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. This used to be me BUT believe me when I say, networking events are not as scary as they seem. When you do pluck up the courage and force yourself to attend, you’ll realize that every other person there has walked into the same room of strangers with the same goal as you – to meet like-minded people. So next time ‘the day of the event arrives’, do yourself a favor and go. Like exercise, you’ll be thankful for it later. They’re a great place to start.
Build Your Brand
It’s never too early to begin building your brand. When you’re volunteering or working at events, capture them and share the images on social media with a little blurb about the role you’re playing or the feature you’ve snapped. At the end of the event, write a short case study and share it on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to ask your Event Manager for a LinkedIn recommendation straight after the event. This is a surefire way to stand out from your competition.
Be sure to let me know if any of these tips lead you to your first big break.