By Christina R. Green
As an event planner, you wear a variety of hats. You’re a project manager, a social director, a solution provider, a mom or dad (let’s face it sometimes those attendees need some coddling), an artist, and you may be a business owner. Those roles require using many different skills and parts of your brain. While in the short term you may need to prioritize some of the roles over others, in your long-term career you’ll need them all. Those skills you don’t have, you’ll need to acquire.
If you work for an event planning company, you’ll likely have a manager or owner suggesting areas of growth. But if you work on your own, professional development and skills assessment will be largely up to you. If you’re having difficulties in your career or your business is lagging, there might be something holding you back. If you want to take your business to the next level or increase your opportunities within the company you work for, ensure you’re not limiting yourself through these common mistakes.
|1. YOU TRY TO CATER TO EVERYONE
Many event planners believe they can be all things to all clients. And while you can, it doesn’t mean
you should. When you specialize in a particular type of client or event, you make a name for yourself
and become known as an expert in that niche. No successful pizza business worries that they’re not
selling Chinese food. Find your niche and become the best in your industry at serving it.
|2. YOU DON’T TAKE TIME FOR SELF-DEVELOPMENT
Things change quickly these days. From technology to social media platforms, there are countless
tools available to you today that weren’t being talked about five years ago. There are very few companies
that will take the time to make thorough suggestions on your professional development. Challenge
yourself to learn new skills. Read up on the latest technology. Peruse industry magazines so you know
what others are doing and what’s working for them. You can’t afford to operate inside a bubble anymore.
Your competition—if your client’s pockets are deep—is the world, not the other event planner in town.
|3. YOU DON’T WORRY ABOUT SECURITY ISSUES
Security should be a major concern for every event planner today. From active shooter scenarios and
training to cyber-attacks and hacking, you need to ensure your guests and their data are safe. Never make
the mistake of thinking these concerns don’t apply to you because you aren’t in a big city or your event
doesn’t draw a big enough crowd. Prepare for the unexpected and it’s one less thing to worry about. It’s
also important to note that sometimes the danger can occur before you get there and may require changing
your plans at the last moment or reassuring attendees that your venue and host city are safe.
|4. YOU HAVEN’T TAKEN THE TIME TO SCOUT TALENT
At some point, you will need assistance. Even if you’re certain you won’t require help on the planning
side, working with a team of vendors that you know you can count on gives you an advantage over the
competition. Most people don’t want to take the time to vet talent. If you can offer a one-stop shop for
your clients, knowing everyone you’ve assembled works well together and understands the expectations,
you can create a near flawless experience, at least as far as your client is concerned.
|5. YOU’RE TRYING TO KEEP IT ALL IN YOUR HEAD OR RELYING ON SOMEONE TO DO THE SAME
Details are the lifeblood of an event planner’s business. Someone with a good mastery of the details
outdoes those who don’t every time. However, there is no reason to keep all the information stored in
your mind. Not only is it very possible to forget something, but if and when you have to hand something
over to a vendor partner, it’s incumbent on you to perform a “brain dump” and something will get lost in
translation. The same advice is true of vendors and venues who tell you they will remember your request
or change. Do everyone a favor and commit it to writing.
|6. YOU’VE UNDERESTIMATED TIMING
This event planning mistake will hopefully only happen to you once (preferably not at all) but newbie
event planners often don’t build buffers into their planning and woefully underestimate the time
something will take. Always estimate high and start early.
|7. YOU’RE NOT IN THE HABIT OF CONFIRMING
Confirm, confirm, confirm and then confirm one more time. Email is your friend and it’s so much easier
to confirm online than it was years ago when we all had to rely on faxes and phones. Today, you can
shoot out confirmation emails to vendors and venues at any time of the day or night and you have written
proof of your inquiry. You can even set a tickler to ensure you hear back or you can follow up.
|8. Just as you dedicate time for professional development and learning new technologies and
processes, you should periodically audition tools that can improve your team’s efficiency. It does
take an investment of time, and sometimes money, to find what you like. With so many productivity
tools in the cloud, once you find what you need, you will never have to worry about a missing zip
drive or a lost folder.
Event planning is an exciting job that is evolving rapidly. If you don’t stay ahead of the demands of the
Christina R. Green can be found on the internet at christinagreen.com. She specializes in storytelling for event planning and small businesses.
She loves learning new skills and hates exclamation points. Connect with her on Twitter @christinagsmith or on Facebook at facebook.com/tellyourstorygetemtalking/.