So You Want to Become an Event Planner…

event planner, austin, tx, audio visual, production, av, events, conferencesEvent planning has always had a bit of glamorous mystery surrounding it. If you know anyone who plans events or have ever attended a really well run (or poorly run) event, you have probably thought about how cool it must be to put one on yourself. Maybe you want to meet high profile people or maybe you just enjoy making people happy and giving them unique experiences. Regardless of why event planning appeals to you, if it does, you may want to know what would be involved to get started as an event planner yourself.

Before you dive into trying to plan events, it’s important to understand that while it may seem glamorous from the outside, it involves a lot of long hours, many challenges, and tight deadlines. This is not to deter you, but to prepare you for what could be a reality check when you enter the industry.

One way to mitigate the shock of what’s truly involved with event planning is to find a trusted team of third party vendors that can help you along the way. Whether they are helping you execute on a specific aspect of the event or providing guidance for the event planning process, getting to know people in the industry is a key component of being a successful event planner.

Beyond finding third party vendors to partner with, how do you start out as an event planner? Let’s discuss a few ways that you can get your toes wet with event planning to see if it’s right for you. If you already know that this is the direction you want to take your career, then these strategies will help you get started on the right foot.

How to Become an Event Planner

Get a practical education. If you’ve never planned an event before, then the first step to becoming an event planner is to get educated on the process and details. This is not to say that you need specialized training or courses to become an event planner, but you should get some sort of practical education. This could include shadowing someone who does what you are interested in, getting an internship with an events company (or in an events department), or getting an entry-level position in an adjacent industry (think event vendors such as caterers or AV providers).

Build a portfolio. As you begin taking jobs or internships within the industry, be sure to document the tasks you are performing and for whom. Start compiling a digital or physical portfolio that contains details of each job so that as you apply for new jobs or start out on your own, you have something to show potential employers or clients.

Volunteer. Many charities and non-profit organizations are in desperate need of someone to guide fundraising efforts. Fundraising almost always includes events of some sort and this can be a great proving ground for you as well as a way for you to know if you enjoy event planning enough to pursue it as a full-time career. You’ll also gain the satisfaction of knowing you helped a worthy cause while getting some much-need exposure and experience in the industry.

Network. In order to be a successful event planner, you have to be comfortable talking with many different kinds of people each day and be able to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with many vendors. The more you can go to other events and network with those in the industry, the more you’ll learn about event planning as a profession and the more people you’ll have on your side when you’re ready to look for an event planning job or creating your own business.

These strategies will help you get started as an event planner. Each of these strategies enables you to simply get your feet wet while you determine whether or not event planning is for you. It also allows you to gain crucial experience while still having a crash pad of sorts so that you can try many different things to see how you want to create your own process and framework.

Event planning is not for everyone, but it is a rewarding profession that has many perks. If you are ready to be process-oriented and put in hard work, then event planning may just be the right profession for you.