How to Start a Career in Event Planning

Bridal event planner with bride-to-be looking through dress catalog

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Looking for a new career that has you working with people, meeting clients, vendors, and using your creativity? How to start a career in event planning depends on you. In order to get hired, you’ll need a social personality, know how to listen, and how to relate to and understand people and their vision for their event.

Necessary Skills, Experience, and Qualities

Of course, negotiating skills, budgeting, and other abilities help but it really is the quintessential people person career. If you are planning to go to college, already in college, or have a degree, it can help but isn't necessary for the job. Ideas for a career in event planning are:

Networking and Experience 

The best way to break into the field is by volunteering for non-profit events. Whether you hand out programs, man the coat check or help with set-up and takedown, you can gain so much experience from volunteering, and do something good for your community. Non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers to help keep their costs down. Search your local area charities and see what types of events are available.
While at these events, strike up conversations with vendors, especially if you are helping with the set-up. Build your contact list and make notes of what works and what doesn't. The more exposure you have to behind-the-scenes set-up, running and breakdown of events, you will see first hand why some are wildly successful, and why others flop because how an event is run behind the scenes often reflects how it’s managed ‘front stage.’

Research the Industry

Learn as much as you can about event planning and related topics. It doesn't matter whether you skim through blogs on corporate event planning or magazines about wedding planning. The more you learn, the more knowledge you gain and the more on-trend you are because they change from year to year. For example, here are seven TED Talks every event planner should watch.

Benefit From Social Media

In this day and age, we would be remiss in leaving out the role of social media in our how to start a career in event planning. LinkedIn is a very successful platform for event managers and especially corporate event planning. You must have a highly professional and engaging page. Leave contact information on your page as well so people can reach you. Add your volunteer work and keep your resume updated on the site. LinkedIn is rapidly growing every day, becoming a truly viable network with entrepreneurs, event planners, and organizations seeking alternative hiring arenas. Get yourself on there and promote yourself.
Facebook has its own version of LinkedIn called BranchOut, which can be a great tool if you have a large list of friends and can develop a wide network in the industry. It is a great way to get started in wedding planning as every bride-to-be is out searching for ways to make their dream wedding a reality.
Meetup is another social media program that can help connect you with other professionals in the industry. If you can't find one locally, create one. The best way to grow your network is to meet with other event organizers and share best practices and their success stories about how to start a career in event planning.  

Get Contract Work

Maybe you want to do a little freelancing? Check out Upwork, a site that brings together clients and freelancers. You’ll need a good, professional profile so people looking to hire freelance event organizers can find you, and you can send proposals to potential clients as well. Using social media and taking advantage of the benefits our technological age offers is essential when learning how to start a career in event planning. 

While breaking into any industry has its challenges, as long as you are committed, bring your social game, and be observant, you’ll have a great start. Building your contact list, networking with industry professionals, and volunteering for events will help you get the dream job you have always wanted. Every day is different in this dynamic industry and starting a career in it is an exciting journey you will love.