Making it as an event professional requires a particular set of skills. Some of them are learned naturally over a long career, while others are easy to pick up and develop. Here is a list of those few important qualities that the very best event planners and event managers possess, and also tips to improve and develop your own skills.
- Passion for planning
It might almost seem too obvious and clichéd to include this, but above everything else, being truly passionate about planning an event is the most important quality of all. The best events professionals pour plenty of enthusiasm and energy into their work. If you don’t feel a pang of pride at a job well done once your event is up and running, you probably won’t get on in the events industry. Rather than relief or exhaustion, a finished event should leave you feeling satisfied that all your events have created something your guests truly enjoyed. It should feel like a real triumph.
2. Attention to detail
Making sure events are running smoothly requires a keen attention to detail that some people struggle with. Many of us are ‘big picture’ thinkers, and get bored or delegate away the nitty-gritty tasks.
If you’re not involved at every stage of your event planning, including smaller tasks such as booking speakers, arranging seating plans or drafting marketing emails, you might find yourself becoming detached from your event.
3. Interpersonal skills
At their core, events are all about bringing like-minded people together. This collaborative environment should be a reflection of your own interpersonal skills, whether working within a team or with clients. Even if you’re naturally introverted or sometimes struggle with large groups, it means a lot just to listen to your peers and colleagues, and to be able to discuss ideas with them.
4. Networking ability
Working in the events industry isn’t just about your personal skills, it’s also about making connections. This isn’t about using friends and relatives to get your foot in the door, but about understanding the importance of cultivating a valuable network of events industry experts and other professionals. If you want to make it as an events planner or manager, you need to be sociable.
Having a LinkedIn profile that allows you to stay in touch with your colleagues and connections is one thing, but getting into the thick of things at industry-specific events and conferences is just as important. Make the most of your time at these events by building meaningful relationships with your fellow professionals. As the events industry is one of the most social and collaborative around, the success of your events can depend on making plenty of contacts.
5. Being able to plan for contingencies
How many events go off without a hitch? You’d be hard pressed to name one. Events professionals are therefore always prepared to react to any eventuality or error. This not only requires careful planning to rule out any crisis before it happens, but also an ability to be reactive and adaptive in case one does. You can improve your own response by focussing on the pre-planning stage to iron out the kinks, by continually checking for holes in your plans, and by ensuring that all your colleagues are ready to react to problems as they emerge.
6. Organisation and time management
Although we will concede that some people work better amid what others might consider chaos and disorder, it does help if your planning has a certain logic and order to it. This is especially true when it comes to event planners, who will usually be working as part of a team. At the very least, keeping your colleagues informed, keeping to deadlines and and appointments, and ensuring important documents and information are organised will make planning an event far easier and more efficient.
7. Technological affinity
Originally, technology solutions were used as a support tool. These days, event tech is a vital part of any event. For example, event professionals are increasingly shifting to event management software in lieu of spreadsheets because of its added convenience and features.
While you don’t necessarily need to know the ins-and-outs of every event technology tool or solution on the market, it’s nevertheless important to have at least a cursory knowledge of how to use software solutions, what the current tech trends are within the industry, and a basic understanding of social media and online marketing. You can do this by following different industry related blogs.
8. Adaptability and imagination
Planning events can sometimes be a very straightforward, routine business. If you’re working to a specific brief or restricted by company guidelines, then there might not be a lot of room for creativity and innovation. But no two events are the same, so there’s always enough scope to create something unique.
Coming up with fresh, imaginative ideas for your events will make them stand out, whether that takes the form of an original theme, a unique venue or an inspiring speaker. Even if you’re limited by your clients’ requirements, you still need to be adaptive and imaginative to make the most of your brief; staying in touch with industry trends will help keep your inspired.
Being able to work well in a team is an essential skill to any role. But becoming a successful events professional could mean leading your own team. It used to be said that ‘some people are born to be leaders, others are born to be led’. We disagree. While some events professionals have a natural ability to lead, it’s a skill that can be developed over time. Being an extrovert doesn’t immediately qualify you as a leader. Everyone can learn to motivate or organise a team, even if you’re not naturally extroverted or authoritative. Your natural personality traits can play a role, but in the end it may simply depend on your passion for event planning.
10. Balancing work and life
Work-life balance has entered the conversation about the future of work over the last few years. The idea is that your commitment to your job and career should not come at the expense of your personal life. The increased focus on stress, which has significant mental health implications, is particularly relevant to the events industry.
By identifying the signs of being too busy and managing your time and priorities, events professionals can avoid burning out. If you can cultivate hobbies, interests and a supportive social circle, you can strike the right balance between your career in the events industry, and your personal and private life.
It’s important to remember that, though these skills come naturally to some people, an event planning career isn’t exclusive to them. With enough determination and a willingness to learn, anyone can develop these qualities. If, for instance, you struggle working with a team or establishing your authority in a leadership role, you shouldn’t be downhearted. If you keep learning and improving, you’ll meet these requirements, and make it as an event professional.