The Novices’ Guide to Event Management: Part Three

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Hey there, folks! We are moving on to part three of our novices’ guide to event management. So far, we’ve covered what an event management portfolio should include and how to organize it so you’re putting your best foot forward. Today, we’re moving on and looking at how to use that portfolio to break into the event management industry. The goal: landing yourself a sweet gig as an event planner.

First, you do need to decide whether you want to be an independent event planner or join an already-established organization as their resident event manager. If you’re going to jump into the deep end and run your own operation, basically starting up, marketing and managing your own business, get ready to work your tail off!

We’ll start with the simpler of the two – working for someone else. How can you get yourself into an event management career without having to start up your own business? What exactly is involved?

If you choose this route your search is more clear-cut; you’ll be applying for jobs such as meeting coordinator, community administrator or event manager. Many different types of corporate entities require an event staff dedicated to running their meeting and community outreach efforts.

Tip: in a corporate environment an administrative assistant, office manager or marketing associate position may be a potential career path, as these professionals often organize events and share similar skill-sets with event managers. 

Nonprofits or associations are another place to look – many run charity events, larger and small, frequently throughout the year often relying on events to fund their operations; there are as many charities as there are corporations. 

Nonprofits, associations, and corporations are only the tip of the iceberg. There’s also a whole host of governmental organizations, educational institutions, hotels, mixed-use venues and even restaurants that require event management staff. Start researching, get your feelers out and hone in on what industry you want to land in. At this stage, it’s simply a matter of applying for positions of interest as you would any other job.

Tip: in the non-profit or charity arena it’s likely you’ll work with people passionate about their work; you may isolate yourself by choosing a cause you feel less invested in.

Now, if you’re going to be running your own event management organization, things get a little (or a lot) trickier. Once you’ve worked out what market segment you want to work in and the type of client that you can best serve (small businesses, charity organizations, venues, individuals, et-cetera), you’re going to need to actively market yourself; a day in which you don’t reach out to at least one potential new client is effectively a day you’ve wasted.

As an independent event manager, you need to always keep your ear to the ground; keep in touch with vendors for referrals, and ring up hotels and venues you’ve possibly worked for in the past and introduce your new venture. All of them could potentially land you a new client or two.

Tip: share your portfolio to other, larger event planners. They may refer a client if they need to refuse a job for any reason. Know who does what in your professional network.

Market yourself on social media, as well. I’ve said in the past that event planners need to be natural storytellers; put that skill to the test in order to endear yourself to clients both new and old. Figure out what your strengths are – and what you can offer clients – and be incredibly clear about this whenever you put yourself out there. Pretty simple, right!

Tip: a website can be a small investment that provides big return. Don’t over think it, a site can be as simple as your contact information, but should always reflect your style.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s entry. Next week, we’re going to be taking a look at the ins and outs of running your own event planning business. There’s a lot more to it than just securing clients, after all.