25+ Resources and Tips to Get into Event Planning
This post gives a definite answer to a question most of us asked ourselves at least once: How do I get into the Event Planning industry?
I get around 50 emails a week from readers. This ranges from self promotional messages to calls for help. In the past 4 and 1/2 years, the most frequently asked question has been consistently one: How do I break into the event planning business?
I must admit I am a bit late with this post and tried to address some of it in my FAQ. The time has come to clear all your doubts and make sure that the Internet now has a definitive guide to start working into the event planning business.
Before I begin, few caveats…
- When you are done reading, if you found this post useful, share it. Wherever you like Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon.
- If you are a student and are lost into this horrible job market, try to implement as many as the suggestions I will give you. Not everything will work, but keep trying.
- Small details count. Some suggestions may look trivial. Do it anyway. I have tried pretty much everything, I know what works.
So you want to get into the event planning business? Let’s rock and roll!
First and foremost I want you to look into making yourself ready to be hired. That means Resume and LinkedIn.
3. Video Resume, Adding your face to your resume may help. You can also sync it to your LinkedIn Profile. Here are some tips to shoot an effective video resume.
4. Join the Event Planning and Management Group and Career Subgroup. You will be able to ask questions and Rennette Grace, our career coach, will help you clearing any doubts. This is all for free by the way.
5. Check the Jobs section of the Event Planning and Management LinkedIn Group. We often have entry level openings. Some of the roles available as I write: Contract Coordinator, Sales Executive, Marketing Exec. All of them are great for entry level candidates.
6. Search for hiring managers on LinkedIn from Event Planning Businesses in your area. Here is how to do it.
7. Start a blog. I remember when I started this blog I had very limited experience. Yet writing about it helped shaping my opinion about events and deciding what was the angle I liked. You can start a blog in minutes on Posterous.com, Tumblr.com or WordPress.com. the latter being my favourite.
Most of the jobs available on the market are not advertised for. Networking is the secret key to get them. I built my career on networking but beware, it is not all about that.
8. LinkedIn is your friend. So you’ve set up a nice looking, complete profile and you’ve joined the Event Planning and Management Group. Now the time to roll up your networking sleeves. I believe it is legitimate to contact group members who can be helpful via groups. Bearing in mind you don’t have to be pushy or nag them to death. Check the member profile and if they indicated they are open to be contacted, just go for it. For example on my profile you will notice that you can “Contact Julius for:”
- Career opportunities
- Consulting offers
- Expertise requests
- Business deals
- Reference requests
Make sure to check those and to stimulate an answer by shaping your questions on one of the items listed.
10. Don’t join associations. There, I said it. I founded a group on LinkedIn of 40,000 event lovers. The group provides the same benefits of an association, while being free of charge and accessible to everyone. I do believe we now have tools that we did not have in the past. LinkedIn is one of them. However, without causing too much controversy, Keith explained it much better than myself. Make up your own mind.
11. Yet your local chapter counts. Some associations have very active local chapters. Ask them what they can offer you should you join. Be direct and join their networking events.
12. BranchOut is your allied. BranchOut is LinkedIn for Facebook. If you have an extensive network on Facebook, it may well be that your next job is waiting for you there. Fascinating.
No matter how great your knowledge of events is, nothing counts as experience. You can study as much as you want but your perspective employer wants to have proof you can perform in a working environment.
The thing is that getting entry level experience in events is surprisingly easy, yet few realize it.
13. Meetup. Start a Meetup or help organizing a popular one. It is first hand experience on what events look like.
14. Get involved in global social networks generated events. Events such as Twestival happen once a year and they are desperate to get your support.
15. Make a list of the largest events in your area and few months before the date of the event, start applying for positions on a voluntary basis. Large events always need temp staff.
16. Register to Volunteer Match to find volunteer openings in your area.
17. Make a list of all the large venues in your area known for hosting the kind of events you want to run. Ask for an appointment and offer voluntary work. Venues are desperate for support.
Do you have a clue about what being an event professional means? Do you know what different roles involve? Are you aware of the most discussed topics in the industry?
19. Join chats. You will learn a lot by joining #eventprofs and #engage365 on Twitter.
20. Read Slides. I am a big fan of Slideshare. I have written few slide decks through the years that got visited several times. Find them all here and make sure to click on related items to read even more.
22. Talk to people in the industry. Meetup usually features event planners networking events around the world. If there is none in your city, start one. If you are not ready to do so, join the Event Planning & Management Group on LinkedIn and stay tuned. Trust me on that one.
You are at war. You need to promote yourself at every possible opportunity and show your perspective employer that you can do the job. Right, but how to get in front of them?
23. Facebook Ads. Use your Facebook Profile as a CV. Direct ads to the page, targeting professionals in your industry and geographical area
24. LinkedIn Ads. This is becoming increasingly used by independent consultants, freelancers and speakers. Same as for Facebook, a bit more expensive.
25. Google Adwords. Target keywords relevant to the industry and test a small campaign. If you want to get an Event Coordinator role in Dallas, be specific in targeting only the above keywords and do not panic if your reach seems low. You only need ONE person to hire you. Use Google Keyword tool to test different keywords.
26.Elance. Unbelievable how many candidates ignore the power of Elance. Set up a profile, proof your experience and you’re done. I’ve used it so many times to find great freelancers.
Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr