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Steps to Take to Become an Event Manager in 2019 (With Resource Links)

Steps to Take to Become an Event Manager in 2019 (With Resource Links)

15 Dec 09:00 by James Walton

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Event planners are some of the happiest workers, according to the popular event management resource EventMB. In a survey, 89% of respondents reported that they are happy in their jobs. This is a pretty high number for any industry, so it makes sense that a lot of people want to break into event planning in 2019. From political events to glitzy showbiz events, there’s a huge spectrum of opportunities out there for those who are willing to work for them.

Event planning is an incredibly diverse and challenging field. No two days will ever be the same and you’ll experience huge opportunities for personal and professional growth. If you’d like to follow suit and build your career in events in 2019, follow these tips for breaking into the industry. We’ve also included some highly valuable resources which will help you to accelerate your learning and skyrocket your career.

Build your profile

You can’t build a name in events if no one knows who you are. It’s as simple as that. If you decide you want to break into event management in 2019, you’re going to have to start by building your profile.

  • LinkedIn will be your best friend as you start to navigate the world of events. First things first, you need to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and make sure you’re using the right hashtags and keywords. Follow this guide for maximising your reach on LinkedIn using hashtags. Check who is viewing your profile and adjust the hashtags if you aren’t reaching the right people.

  • Create a visual CV that will help you to stand out from the crowd. Visualize Me is a free and easy-to-use platform that will turn your plain LinkedIn profile into a stunning infographic. Anything you can do to help you stand out from the crowd will help.

  • Start a blog. It might seem like the blogosphere is already oversaturated, but blogging can really help you to stay accountable in your journey. Blogging about industry insight not only helps you to refine your own stance on key issues, but it also gives you plenty to talk about in interviews. Anything you can do to get your name out there and establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry will help. If nothing else, you can use your blog as a portfolio for your work and share insight on the challenges you have overcome as a newbie event planner. You can use Wordpress.com to start a blog for free or use sites like Medium and LinkedIn Publishing to share your insight.

  • Clean up your social media profiles. If you are trying to build your online profile and adding employer-friendly tidbits like a blog and portfolio to the mix, you really need to make sure the entire picture is safe for work. If you don’t want to delete any questionable posts from your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, at least make them private. However, be warned that private profiles are likely to be counterintuitive to what you are trying to achieve. Instead, making your personal social media profiles a place for networking and sharing insight about your events is more likely to yield positive results. Many employers today want to see that you have the relevant social media marketing skills and your personal profiles are a great way to demonstrate this.

Get experience

Get experience

It always seems like a Catch 22 when you start hunting for jobs in a new industry. Everyone wants to see experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. Fear not, as there are plenty of ways you can get experience in events management before you’ve even landed your first job.

  • Host a Meetup. Even if you’re only arranging a venue and a few speakers, a meetup is still very much an event. Make it a regular thing and you could soon attract a keen audience of loyal followers. You’ll need to use all of your skills in marketing and promotion to get your event out there, so this is another opportunity to show what you can do. Decide if you want to run a social meetup or an industry meetup. If you run an industry meetup, you’ll have the added bonus of being able to invite the very people who may be able to offer you a job.

  • Volunteer. Check LinkedIn for signs of big events happening in your local area. These events will always need volunteers and this will give you a broad range of experience. Charities, non-profits, political organisations and cultural organisations will always need volunteers for their events. So, you can gain experience while contributing to something that you love.

  • Join a staffing agency. Event staffing agencies are always looking for workers on short notice. You might not be working in your dream job, but you’ll get decent pay, training and loads of experience in different areas of events. This is a great way to bolster your CV and ensure you have plenty to talk about in interviews.

  • Attending events is also a great way to gain experience and see how different companies operate. While it might be tempting to corner the event planners running these events and asking them thousand-and-one questions, remember they are working and probably very busy. Instead, connect with them on LinkedIn the next day and start a conversation from there.

  • Intern or secure work experience. Volunteering to work for free for large event planning organisations helps to kill two birds with one stone. You’ll get experience and you’ll make connections. If you are dedicated and hard-working and an entry-level job comes available, you’ll be at the top of the list before they have even put out a job description.

Meet the right people

Meet the right people

Many event managers will tell you that the best jobs are rarely advertised. There is a sort of hidden job market out there that you can only access by speaking to the right people. One of the key skills event managers need to be able to master is communication and networking, which is why speaking to the right people can often be the best way to land your dream job.

  • Use LinkedIn to join the Event Planning and Event Management Group. This is a great place to start when you are thinking about breaking into event planning. The members share industry insight, job opportunities and you can also forge relationships with people in your area.

  • Attending networking events. Once you have some experience under your belt, a bright online profile with samples of your work and some business cards printed, it’s time to start attending some events. Event planners are personable and friendly by nature, so you’ll have no trouble striking up conversations. Ask questions, listen and make sure you follow up with the people you have met.

  • Avoid associations or anyone asking for payment for membership. While associations may have once been a requirement for working in the industry, times have changed and there are far better ways to network. If any association is asking for a membership fee, make sure you find out exactly what membership gets you. If you get an invite to a monthly networking event that no one attends, it isn’t going to be worth it. If you get access to a private job board but there are never any jobs posted, then it will also be a waste of money. Joining a professional Meetup or LinkedIn group might be more effective than association membership.

  • When you make a new professional connection, make sure that you also connect on LinkedIn and send them a personalised note so that they remember meeting you. A fistful of business cards is no use if the people have no idea who you are. Remember not to spam people with information about you. Test the water and see if they are receptive to hearing more about your blog before you start forwarding them every single thing you have ever written.

Expand your knowledge

Event planners never stop learning. The internet makes it even easier to learn new skills, whether you want to brush up on your high school French or learn new skills in project management. Here are some great ways you can learn new things for free.

  • Sites like Coursera offer short self-study courses in anything from psychology to marketing. If you know you have gaps in your knowledge this is a great way to fill those gaps. Some of the courses lead to recognised qualifications which can help to bolster your CV. At the very least, these courses will give you something to talk about and will also show that you are committed to lifelong learning.

  • Brush up your social media marketing skills using some of these free resources. Using social media for business is very different to how you would use it for a business event. Skillshare offers an introduction to social media strategy course that would be helpful for all event planners.

  • Read industry blogs. Make sure you check in regularly so that you are always up to date with the latest from the world of event planning. Make it a regular feature on your blog to give a round up of the latest news so that you can demonstrate that you are really engaged with the industry.

  • YouTube is a great way to learn new skills fast. There are countless videos on there showing event setups and instructional videos for how to manage aspects of event planning. You can expand your knowledge and make sure that you have something original to talk about in your interview. Casually dropping in that you saw a video about how to create the perfect event proposal shows that you are actively engaged and committed.

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Refine your interview skills

Once you have a killer CV, tonnes of experience under your belt and a phonebook full of connections, then the real work starts. Getting interview-ready is vital for any industry. Interviews are a strange situation to be in so it can take a little bit of practice to get your interview technique right. These steps will help you to prepare for your first interview and refine your approach from there if you aren’t successful.

  • After each event you are involved with, take the time to make notes about what went well and what could have gone better. You’ll be surprised how often this comes up in an interview setting. Rather than racking your brain on the spot, you’ll be prepared with some strong answers.

  • Learn your CV before you walk into an interview. Working in events means that you’ll probably forget about a lot of the experience you have. It should all be listed on your CV, but since your CV is updated so often it can be easy to overlook this. Make sure you are familiar with your CV before you meet with any prospective employer.

  • Be clear about your intentions. If you are willing to travel or relocate, make sure the prospective employer knows this. If you want to work in a specific type of event planning, make this clear. Walking into an interview with no clear intentions makes it seem like you haven’t really thought about a career in event planning in much detail.

  • Think about your body language and be precise in your words. Event planners need to be confident and assertive and this will be assessed in your interview. Poor posture, twitching hands or fiddling nervously with a pen all suggest that you don’t cope well under pressure. If you are asked a question, answer confidently and avoid falling into the trap of making your answer seem like a question. If your voice raises at the end of the sentence, this is a question and not a statement.

Follow up after every interview. Even if you feel that it was a disaster, you should still check in with the interviewer. Send them a personalised note to thank them for their time. If they tell you they have decided to go with another candidate you can always ask for feedback, an intern opportunity or a LinkedIn connection. 

All of these actions show that you are still interested in working for their company. If a lack of experience is an issue, then you can work on this and you might be first in line for the next opportunity.