Last week I blogged about the constant influx of people seemingly interested in breaking into events, and offered up a few tips on how not to differentiate yourself from the masses. For suggestions on how to separate yourself from the pack I wised up and turned to the experts. Below are some highly accomplished event pros, and their advice on how to break in by breaking the mold.
Ideas are the currency of all business
“Look around at any business and you will see that the people who rise the fastest, earn the most and provide the greatest value to their organizations are those that can put one and one together to make three. If you are an idea person, willing to take risks and able to find a better, faster, less expensive way to do something, you will be recognized and you will succeed. Don’t be afraid to offer an idea. Great organizations welcome input from everyone and recognize how rare a quality it is to find someone who can help change and evolve an organization.”
– Paul Neuman, President, Neuman’s Kitchen
Network Network Network
“Educate yourself and gain experience wherever you can! The best way to learn the ins and outs of a job is to NETWORK-NETWORK-NETWORK. I would recommend setting up informational meetings with event professionals across different industries so you can get a flavor of what life in Event Planning is really all about. Get involved! Join groups, use social media, and try to volunteer or temp at events that will give you an opportunity to gain a better big picture perspective; after that, start building your resume and portfolio. Find an industry that suits your personality and your interests; whether that be fashion, financial services, healthcare, not for profit — you must be drawn to it and you must be passionate about the work you’re producing. An event is more than just a one day “show”; there is an entire lifeline, and you are ultimately creating an experience for your clients that represents your brand. Event planning is hard work, and it’s rarely glamorous, but it can be very rewarding to see all your hard work come full-circle.”
– Julie Meriam, Assistant Vice President, Barclays
Find your creative
“Identify what creative abilities you have and make that your “hook”. The event world thrives on creativity and anyone in our industry wants to have people on their team that can contribute creatively. Be able to demonstrate why this talent or skill distinguishes you from the pack. Explain how this trait complements all the other skills you bring to the table.”
– Darren Olarsch, President, On the Move Events & Entertainment
Started from the bottom
“Be willing to start at the bottom, and then if needed, start at the bottom again. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t willing to swallow my pride and let myself learn what I needed to become the best meeting planner I could. Also: work in as many sides of the field as possible to really understand them. I have worked for a hotel, for an event agency, in-house for both financial, association and now at Altria, and even spent some time working with a décor company. I wouldn’t know as much about each aspect of the industry if I hadn’t spent the time to see how they operate. I definitely respect the time and effort of everyone on an event team.
– Nicole Walker, CMP, Meeting Planning Consultant, Altria Client Services Inc.
Be sure that you want it
“I try to talk people out of entering the events community. You will make more money for less hours with less stress, in almost any other industry. But if you have a passion for events, there truly is nothing else that works. If I can convince you that it isn’t for you, then you didn’t want it! We are creative adrenaline junkies, and events is our fix. We look for people that have a unique combination of left and right brain thinkers. People that can think outside of the box, but can also figure out how much the box costs. That is hard to find. We expect people to work hard because they love it – they do what it takes to be really proud of what their team produced.”
– Jeff Guberman, President, Fourth Wall Events
Get in the door
“Breaking into the events industry can be quite the challenge, but certainly a rewarding one. Networking may possibly be the most crucial tool. More importantly, take on a role in any capacity which will allow you to get your feet wet and open the doors to greater opportunities. Be ready to roll up your sleeves and approach the events world with a can-do attitude.”
– Fritzie Goldenberg, Sr. Events Manager, E*Trade