What it really takes to be an event planner

If you’re anything like me, becoming an event planner was probably all you thought about at one stage. The hardest part of it all though, is finding the right way to kick it all off. Fear often holds us back, and when we’re faced with the chance to live out the dreams in our imaginations, we can become stuck. But sometimes it just takes a leap of faith. If there’s anything I’ve learned most, it’s that having confidence in your abilities goes a long way.

Lessons come far and wide in this industry, and a majority of the mistakes you learn from happen when you’re on the job. That’s how you really get to understand how to tackle each hurdle as they come. You can’t learn that kind of experience from sitting down and reading up about it all the time – you get out there and you take knowledge away from the challenges you meet.

Beyond that though, there’s some common aspects to being an event planner, and the kind of mutual takeaways we all have as professionals in the field. So in this blog post, I’m putting forward all those little things you need to expect of yourself as someone working in this space.

You need to learn to love uncertainty

As an event planner, you’re essentially working for yourself (most of the time). Unless you’re a part of a corporate chain, you’re likely to be out in the big, wide world, working hard at establishing your own presence. And that’s probably one of the most exciting parts of it. But you have to quickly learn that if you delay any aspect of planning towards an event, or you’re one to daydream too much, you’ll miss out on the goodies.

Things will always go wrong – that’s how we grow. Venues will be booked out or the catering won’t go according to plan. But as you further concrete your business, you’ll learn what suppliers to trust and what ones to be wary of. At the end of the day, you’ll know exactly how to deal with uncertainty in all its glory. From the four-seasons-in-a-day weather of Melbourne, through to improvisation. You’ll learn to become best friends with the unexpected.

Taking on responsibility is crucial

This line of work requires you to take things on in all capacities and that means a lot of hard work from the outset. From strategizing, through to planning and actioning – you need to be the Jack-all-trades…and you have to be okay with it, too. Events of all kinds pop up and when you’ve been in the space for enough time, you’ll know how to narrow down on services that suit each occasion best and what ones to eliminate from your brainstorm. Eventually, you’ll be okay with becoming accountable with each and every detail to do with an event. If things don’t go according to plan, no worries – a part of the job is to problem solve.

Connections mean just as much as knowledge

Event planners are social people. We’re not the kind to sit on our couch and wait for things to happen; we get out there. In this field, it’s who you know, not necessarily what you know (but that helps, too). Once your business is all set up and buzzing, you’ll need to solidify authentic relationships with stakeholders and suppliers that you can trust. They’ll be the ones you need to rely on when it comes to crunch time, and you need to make sure they won’t let you down. This is especially true if you need something last minute – who’s in that address book of yours that you can fall back on when you need it most?

An updated portfolio is your Bible

No matter where you end up, you’ll always need to showcase your work in a way that proves your skills as an event planner. Business cards don’t really cut it here. Be it online or printed, have a portfolio at the ready for showing off your past work. Include high-quality photos and details about how you actioned that celebration. Why should your clients come to you for the same? Make it irresistible for them.

Once you’ve spent time lining up how you expect to carry out your day-to-day operations, you’ll become an expert in understanding what works best for you and the kind of clients you’re attracting. Refining your services (and then refining again and again) will, in time, provide you with a blueprint that shows you exactly who you are as an event planner. From there, it’s just a matter of tackling all the exciting projects that come your way.

And that’s the best part.