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Last week, we took a look at the components every novice event management professional should focus on to help build a strong portfolio. Today, we’re going to take a quick look at how you should format a business portfolio, fitting those component pieces together to best catch the eye of prospective clients. More importantly, we look at the language and presentation of your portfolio that will best ensure perspective clients hire you.  Not surprisingly, presentation plays a huge role in every aspect of an event professionals’ career.

Putting together your event management portfolio for the first time can be an intimidating process. It’s all too easy to get discouraged, particularly if you don’t have too many experiences to include. Ignore this; you need to start somewhere.

First, outline the natural progression of your professional story:

  • Who you are (brief professional bio)
  • What services do you offer (professional capabilities)
  • What you have done (professional affirmation)

You’ve got the first one down. Write a paragraph about yourself, your company, and your personal take on your sector of the industry. Then ask yourself what a potential client may take away if they only read that paragraph. Is there something memorable and of value to a potential client?

Remember, a portfolio is not that different from a resume, you need to portray who you are and what your capable of, but also keep it short.

Think about the “economy of language” and make each word count. It’s enough to include a short paragraph describing each type of service you provide, with a few bullet points noting the key components of each.

When promoting your past achievements, stay away from TMI, too much information! Your clients don’t need to know what time an event started, or what sort of food was served, or that you once broke up a fight. What they do need to know is that you “understand crowd logistics and safety” or that you can tap into “a network of high-quality catering companies.”  Your not telling old stories, your demonstrating to your clients exactly what you can provide them.

Don’t be too vague, either – share information in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way. There is a fine line between using industry slang to show you know your stuff, and losing your audience by not using everyday, conversational language.

Please! Make certain all content shared in your management portfolio is your own work.

Don’t use stock images or a stock website design (assuming you’re posting things online.) You’re trying to sell yourself here, not anyone else. That said use a copy-editor for text. There is something to be said for an outsider perspective and good editing.

So now you’ve put together a sharp-looking portfolio. You’ve outlined your career and highlighted the accomplishments you’ve pull off as a novice event professional. Your portfolio is eye-catching – a graphic designer made it look tight, and it lets clients know you’re actually good at what you do.

Yes, we’ll say it. “Fake it ‘til you make it!”

This may sound cliché, but the most important piece of advice we can give is to show confidence. To be completely honest, without confidence everything else pretty much falls apart; it doesn’t matter how well put-together your portfolio is if you appear nervous or unsure of yourself. Believe me; this applies as much to initial phone calls as in-person meetings, and certainly your website copy when you get to that stage.

When presenting yourself and your work avoid being passive, wishy-washy or apologetic. Use the active voice and active verbs, speak in the present, not the future; “we build engaging events” vs. “we will build engaging events.” Don’t tone down your capabilities as an event planner rather own your strengths. There is no reason to be modest about your achievements. You can still be humble even when sharing your expertise. And never admit your mistakes without detailing what you learned from them.

If your portfolio looks sharp and you present yourself with confidence and charm, you’ll be surprised how far you can go.

Next week, we’ll take a look at how you can use your new portfolio to land your first event management gig.