Do you have what it takes to make it in the event industry?
If you answered “yes” based solely on your event organizing skills, you might be surprised to know that our international group of experts didn’t rank that quality as number one in terms of importance.
So what do you need to succeed?
We spoke with dozens of event profs worldwide, with years of collective experience across global markets, associations, and big name brands. From CEOs and owners to event marketers, managers and chief strategists (plus everything in between). They told us what they REALLY look for on an applicant’s resume when recruiting and we shared it with you in this article.
Reading about these event planning skills will help you to grasp what it takes to stand out as an event professional and what those hiring are really looking for.
Keep reading if you want to understand:
- What the key skills for event management are
- How to craft the perfect resume if you are applying for an event coordinator, event planner or event organizer roles.
- What skills to focus on to advance your event planning career
Table of Contents:
Here is a quick reference to navigate this guide:
- 17 Common Traits of Winning Event Planning Resumes in 2018
- How To Improve Your Chances of Getting Your Dream Job in Events
- 11 Ideas To Quickly Shift Your Event Career Path in 2018
- 11 Strategies To Stop Negativity and Get The Job You Deserve Today
- Bonus Video – The 6 Skills You Need to Become a Successful Event Planner
- 32 Successful Event Professionals Rank the Top 5 Event Planning Skills
Are you ready to see how you stack up to advance your event planning career and find out the event planner skills and qualities you need to succeed?
So, What’s the next step to becoming a successful event manager? You need an amazing resume, of course.
Your event planning resume should function in two ways:
- Electronically – Linking to your online portfolio, website, social media or about me pages.
- Original Paper Copies – Avoid the urge to go 100% paperless, as much as you may want to. Some jobs still prefer or require a paper copy application and at your interview, be prepared with additional copies. Being prepared for such occasions will illustrate how you anticipate the unexpected – a good skill for an event planner!
You should also focus on the layout because it can be the immediate indicator of an organized and detail-oriented event planner and we have an event planner resume template for you.
But what does a hirer look for?
We have asked the best of the best to share their advice when it comes to winning resumes that really highlight event management and planning skills. Passion for event planning alone is not enough to become a successful event planner. You need to show that you can deliver when the time comes. So use these guidelines to adapt your current resume to demonstrate a strong event focus.
But don’t just follow our advice, take it from the people who are successful event planning gurus themselves:
Amanda Young, Americas Event Leader, GE Healthcare
“For me, event technology experience is a must-have. Lead retrieval, registration sites, OnSite tools like apps and check in are all items I am looking for you to understand. This goes beyond employees and is important for agencies to have as well when we hire them to run an event. I appreciate logistics management skill sets, but in order to show ROI and improve the customer experience I think technology understanding and skill on your resume is very important.”
Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group
“For any position, I am first and foremost looking to see whether the person would fit the IMEX team and culture. We are a small entrepreneurial company and so we’re looking for evidence that people are happy to take responsibility, own projects and develop them by using their initiative.”
Marilee A. Sonneman, CMP, DMCP, Founder, Spotlight Sojourns, Immediate Past President 2017-2018, MPI Northern California Chapter
Three elements separate the wheat from the chaff in recruiting: Professional affiliations and volunteerism, credentials and continuing education, qualification and quantification.
- “Professional affiliations and volunteer engagement. Membership in professional associations like Meeting Professionals International (MPI) demonstrates credibility, engagement as a volunteer proves commitment, and leadership in the association elevates excellence.
- Credentials and continuing education. Credentials such as Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) are the hallmark of global standards and best practices in our highly experiential industry. Continuing education is an investment in professional development, an opportunity to discover and deploy fresh ideas, cutting-edge concepts, new perspectives.
- Qualification and quantification. Share your WHY – WHY this position is the right fit for you and for the company, WHY you do what you do, WHY you are the cream of the proverbial crop. Because the WHY underscores everything. And just as metrics make the difference for corporate stakeholders, so too, can quantifying your success make the difference in the job search.”
Karen Hartline, CEO at Reinventing Events
“I believe that people can be taught how to do a job, even in the event industry. What I’m really looking for is someone who:
- Has given effort. Do they have a thorough resume and cover letter that showcases their work or is it just thrown together because they need a job?
- Has good writing skills. If this person is going to interact with clients and vendors, I need to know they can form a complete sentence.
- Isn’t afraid to show some personality. While I’m looking for professionalism, I also want to know someone would be a good fit for the team and culture of Reinventing Events
- Pays attention to details. This is a big one! My job postings ask them to review my 50 Tips to Badass Event Planning presentation and share their 3 favorite tips. You wouldn’t believe how many applicants don’t do this.
- Can problem-solve. I don’t always post where to find my presentation but it’s very easy to find on my website and Google. If they’ve actually listed their three favorites with some explanation of why I know they’re smart enough for my team.
- This process is the first part of the interview process helps me quickly weed through who I want to schedule a phone call with.”
Cindy Y. Lo, DMCP, Owner & Chief Event Strategist, Red Velvet Events, a Global DMC Partner
“We are looking for the following qualities but not all of them are equally weighted:
- Company culture fit
- Attention to detail
- Technology savvy
- Curious learner
- Effective communicator
- Genuinely kind person
Bianca Dragan, Events & Marketing Manager, AltFi
“I look for people that are passionate about events. Skills like Excel and PowerPoint are easily learned but if passion is lacking then the candidate will not be motivated to learn on the go and study the industry trends.”
Helen Brady, Event Manager, Events Northern Ltd
“An eye for detail. Event planning requires a keen eye for all the little things and is a must for any budding eventprofs. Everyone makes mistakes, but the amount of CV’s I have read that have really basic spelling and punctuation errors always surprises me! It’s easy to miss something when you’re the one that has written it, and re-written it, and re-written it one final time, but that’s what friends, family and colleagues are for. Always get someone else to proofread before you submit. It’s a little thing, but it really can make all the difference.”
Jenny Stanfield, CMP
“I look for people who demonstrate passion to the industry. For me, this means being an active part of an industry association, volunteering on a committee or for various other events outside their work experience. Having relevant education and a strong background working as part of a team is also really important.
But above all things – I love people with a positive attitude that can solve problems on the fly. I look for people who can be creative in the moment and think outside the box to get things done. ‘Expert generalist’ is the term I like to use.”
Anne Thornley-Brown, MBA, President of Executive Oasis International
“Whether I am looking for someone to work with one of my teams or recruiting for a client, the most important qualities are flexibility, the ability to multitask, overcome obstacles. Add to that a creative flair and the candidate will be very appealing.”
Amanda Thurlow, Event Planner and Event Blogger
“Working in events requires flexibility, teamwork, good time management and great organizational skills. I would look for someone who has experience of all of these and is able to demonstrate how they have communicated with teams to deliver great events.”
Lance Fensterman, Global Head of ReedPOP
“I have very little interest in CVs at all and rarely read them. It’s a selfish view in that I have no formal training or education myself, so I tend to devalue it when assessing others. I am much more interested in personality, cultural fit and drive – all which tend to come through in short pre-recorded video interviews that ReedPOP started doing this year, referrals from people I trust or personal emails showing some flair, fire and quirk.”
Mary Franklin, Global Event Director, ReedPOP
“I look for a balance between high-level thinking/ability to strategize and willingness to roll up the sleeves and get things done well. Some event producers work hard but do not strategize; others are great at ideas but not willing to work to see them through.”
Desirée Knight, CMP, Director, Education & Meetings, AREMA
“When I am reviewing resumes it’s important to me that the individual that is applying for the position has a network and extensive knowledge about the industry. There are so many planners that don’t collaborate with their peers and some that don’t know how to ask for help when a situation arise that they have not handled before. It’s important that they have a village of industry friends that they can bounce ideas off of.”
Shawn Barrie, President and Owner at Evntdsgn
“When I am reviewing resumes for myself or for companies I have worked for, one of the first things I look for is personalization. Details, like name of who is hiring and not the ‘To Whom It May Concern’ opener, are so important. Along the personalization path, resumes should not look like a ‘form’ letter. I get it, we all have done the google searches for the latest/greatest way to say you want to work <insert company name here> but it shows when you have just copied and pasted straight from the sample/example. Most important, and I can’t believe it has to be said, but proofread, spell check and review grammar before submitting a resume! For example, depending on the role I am looking for, using the wrong ‘their’ is a no-no! ”
Shawn E. Boynes, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director, American Association of Anatomists
“A resume is a snapshot of more than just where someone worked, titles, and what they accomplished, I look at format, tenure with each organization they worked for, and concise key words to decipher how a person presents themselves. In other words, does the individual clearly convey the value they offer or is it just a summary of events managed? People who’ve been in the same position for too long raise concern for me because without different organizational experience and without being challenged in different environments, our skills get stale.”
Tamela Blalock, MBA, CMP, DES
“I am searching for someone who has taken the time to understand the story of her experiences and has identified her strengths as they relate to the position description. The resume should tell a story of the challenges and successes in quantifiable terms. Are you someone who understands how important it is to achieve results, and then presents those results in a digestible way? Are you someone who has an understanding of how she wants to build her career, or do you simply want a different job?”
Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, President & Co-Founder, Association for Women in Events
“For me, I love looking at “outside of the box” formats. Be creative! It is less about content and more about how you can stand out. I am certainly looking for keywords; strategic, creative, innovative. I also want someone loyal and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
But resumes aren’t the only thing that gets you hired as an event professional.
If you want to secure your ideal job in the event industry as a successful event planner it’s essential to prove your worth. The skills required of an event organizer go beyond what is written with pen and paper, and you can showcase this in other ways.
Hint: they’re not on your resume.
You show a potential client or hiring professional you mean business through:
- A portfolio. Show them pictures, video, and other proof of your abilities and vision. If you’re brand new and don’t have a portfolio, try throwing an event for a friend and capture it visually for all to see.
- A brand. If you want to make a career transition, become that new career. Begin following people on social media. Learn from them. Engage them in conversation. Show that you can build relationships and a network. Start using the words the event industry does on your social media profiles.
- Word of mouth marketing. Talk to people who currently work in the industry and ask for their advice on making the transition. Maybe some of them started out in the same field you did. Make those connections and slowly build word of mouth marketing around getting hired. Ask their opinion on the event organizing skills that are the most important and marry that up against your skill set to see what you are lacking. This is good practice for what you’ll be doing in events. Speaking of which…
- Drawing correlations between the job you have and the job you want in the cover letter and later the interview. Don’t expect people to make that connection for you. They won’t.
- Being creative and other skills. Later in this post, we illustrate for you what event managers believe are the keys to the castle of eventdom success. And we shared suggestions for building the ideal resume above. (We even gave you a template!) But nothing works quite like hands-on examples. Show the person you’re trying to impress that you have a passion for bringing these event planner skills and qualities to life. Don’t say you’re creative, show them. Don’t claim to be organized and intuitive to people’s needs and then leave a copy of your resume at home. Whenever possible, do as your teachers suggested – show don’t tell.
Even if you have all the necessary event management skills our eventprofs deem necessary for success and even if you have an amazing event coordinator skills resume with visual examples of what you can do, to land a job in event planning, you still need to use some of those mad event planner skills and to cover all of your bases.
If You Want a Job in Event Planning…
- Do show them you’re organized and have a meticulous attention to detail by coming prepared for the interview. That means extra copies of your resume and a Mary Poppins bag of incidentals.
- Don’t arrive late claiming to get lost, have an alarm that didn’t go off, or any other reason that will give the hiring firm or client a moment to doubt your event planning abilities and navigation skills.
- Do treat every moment of the interview as the interview. Be kind and try making connections with everyone you meet. Everyone.
- Don’t show signs of nerves. This interview is nothing compared to what you’ll face under true, full-blown event stress.
- Do take an interest in the client or interviewer. They will be rating your ability to connect with people. After all, that’s part of the event planning job.
- Don’t make excuses. In events, they rarely matter. It’s the solution that counts.
Are you feeling pigeonholed into a specific career path and want to realign? Or feel that your services offered are too broad and need focusing more clearly?
Once you have established yourself within the event industry, your confidence begins to build and you may feel like there isn’t any task that you can’t handle. You may have found a niche that suits you well and you’re beginning to take the lead on projects. But what if you decide that you’re interested in exploring a new area of events? There are many emerging roles and skills needed in the event industry and the possibilities are growing all the time.
Although it is great to offer a wide variety of services there can be wonderful benefits to focusing on a specific niche. Instead of being limited, finding a way to identify your desired niche and position yourself as a leader can really boost your career. Here are 11 ideas that will help you to shift your focus towards your desired area of expertise and expand your future career opportunities.
1. Use Your Network
If you are looking to make a shift in your career, your personal and professional network are a great place to start. While it can sometimes be intimidating to make a career shift if you make your goals known within your network you will be much more likely to hear about new opportunities that may suit you. You never know what options might be available to you unless you start exploring and connecting with others in the industry.
Do This Now:
- Go to LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile get one now and add all your email contacts.
- Start searching for companies that you want to work for.
- Ask for introductions from contacts you have with potential hiring managers.
- If you don’t have any contacts, get in touch with hiring managers directly with a targeted invite to connect.
2. Take a Step Back
On occasion, you may have to take a step back in order to make a career shift. This might mean taking a lower paying job, or perhaps a more entry-level position in order to get your foot in the door with the niche you are interested in. Once you have broken into the sector of the industry that you desire you will be able to build and grow upon the experience.
Do This Now:
- Go to your favorite job search engine.
- Search for your dream job title.
- Select a payment range slightly lower than what you are making today.
- Select your top five ideal jobs and send targeted cover letters with your resume.
3. Volunteer Within a New Niche
If you aren’t ready to fully take the dive into a new niche you could start out by volunteering to see if it’s a match for you. Many different types of event managers are constantly looking for volunteers. Wedding planners, nonprofit organizations, and corporate organizations can all benefit from an intern or event volunteers. Reach out and see if you can job shadow or assist on an upcoming event. This will give you great perspective before you take the leap into a new focus area.
Do This Now:
- List the areas of events you would like to work in.
- List five top events in your geographical area for each vertical that accept volunteers.
- Send a targeted letter to recruiters making sure you mention ‘volunteer’ in your email subject.
4. Create a Personal Brand to Reflect Your Goals
Reinventing your career can be significantly impacted by the personal brand that you surround yourself with. As soon as you know where you want to focus your career goals you should take time to make sure that your online presence reflects your newfound passion. Keeping your social channels up to date, creating a blog or newsletter and developing consistent messaging will show others that you are focused and committed to your profession. By portraying a sense of confidence and knowledge you will instantly gain credibility with others within your niche.
Do This Now:
- Identify the key influencers in your event area of concentration.
- Find gaps and content opportunities to develop your own brand. What are others not talking about? Could you write about it?
- Use only the social networks that matter. Don’t be spread out too thinly, focus on one or two that can help you gain influence and reach.
5. Start Your Own Business
If you can’t find the right job within the niche that you desire, you could go out on your own and start your own business. If you feel that you have the experience necessary, the drive to be an entrepreneur and that the demand is out there you might be well served by taking the leap and creating your own opportunities. While this does take time, commitment and passion can oftentimes pay huge dividends for motivated event managers.
Do This Now:
- Start freelancing on the side of your main gig. Tough, but you can manage. To mitigate the risk of going solo all of a sudden, you can gradually move into freelancing.
- Running an event is like running a business. You got this. Start planning your business like it’s an event. Think about the steps you need to take. Layout a business plan that looks like a project management sheet. You are comfortable with it.
- What is not making you happy about your current gig? Isolate the element that is pulling you down. If going solo can wipe that away, take the plunge. Don’t worry, EventMB will help you along the way.
6. Continue Your Education
Depending on the type of change you are looking to make, you may benefit from some additional education or a certification. Having increased knowledge in a specific area will show your potential clients and employers that you are committed to your new area of events. While there are the common certifications such as the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional), there are also niche specific courses and certifications for industries like wedding planning, travel consulting and catering to add to your event coordinator skills resume.
Do This Now:
- CMP has been proven to be the most relevant certification for business event planners. If you plan weddings that will do you no good. Go for it if you think it will help you to get a new gig. But check the jobs you want to see if they’re asking for it.
- Stop wasting time on YouTube watching cat videos. Use that time to teach yourself something. Whether it is social media, event technology, event marketing, or meeting design you can quickly gain knowledge about skills in demand. Start with the EventMB YouTube Channel.
- Use the dead time to educate yourself. If you are traveling, don’t work, learn. If you are at the gym, don’t work, learn.
7. Conduct Informational Interviews
Once you have identified the shift you would like to make in focusing your events career you might start to gain some additional knowledge by interacting with individuals who are already established in this portion of the industry. Reaching out will help you to build relationships, identify new opportunities and learn more about the area where you want to focus. Doing some basic informational interviews with other event managers can be a big boost to your career and your network.
Do This Now:
- Make a list of the people you want to be like. Select those professionals who have a career path similar to the one you want.
- Reach out to your local event associations or online to the myriad of communities. Send an email. Whatever it takes, ask for advice, ask questions.
- Get yourself a mentor. It’s very easy to get one. Just ask your idols online. You’d be amazed by how influential people are willing to teach and share.
8. Invest in Your Transferable Skills
Just because you are making a career shift, doesn’t mean that the skills you have already gained in your previous years of work are worthless. Take time to identify the skills you have and how they can translate into the new work you will be doing, many skills required of an event organizer are transferable as the work is so varied. If you are moving from one niche to another, such as planning conventions to planning private parties, you have a large number of skills that will easily translate to your new career, but the key is being able to convey this to your potential clients and employers.
Do This Now:
- Look through your resume and highlight those skills that are applicable to events, especially soft skills, and emotional intelligence skills
- Rewrite your resume to illustrate how you’ve cultivated skills that are relevant today in each previous job you had.
- Highlight how each job has helped you to be the person you are today and how each skill you have gained helps you as an event professional.
9. Gain New Skills and Knowledge
Finding a niche within the event industry that appeals to you can take some time and research but it is a key tactic of millionaire and celebrity event organizers. Be sure to spend ample time reading and researching all of the pros and cons that can come along with each area of interest.
Do This Now:
- There is no excuse for not reading. Just the fact you got this far in this article means you can read professional development articles. Do more of it.
- Explore all the content about a specific topic. Select a new skill to develop and read all about it. Be specific, go in depth. Funny titles and gifs are just that, funny. Read complex and advanced material, don’t just scratch the surface.
- Start following influencers on specific topics and see what they are talking about, who do they talk to, what are they sharing.
10. Allow Yourself to Overcome Your Fear
Give yourself permission to explore your passions and take a leap! Sometimes making a change can be a bit scary, but if you follow your heart you will be so much happier and fulfilled in your career. Make smart and educated career moves, but give yourself the freedom to explore everything that the event industry has to offer!
Do This Now:
- List all the obstacles preventing you from obtaining your next job.
- Dissect real threats from your psychological barriers. Are you really not qualified? Are you really not able to speak in public? Don’t be harsh on yourself.
- Change whatever gaps you have. Learn, read, explore and change. We have more information available than ever before. You have all the answers in front of you, or at least within arm’s reach.
11. Position Yourself As An Expert
As you gain experience and expertise, you should spend some time and work hard to position yourself as an influencer in the sphere. Find opportunities to speak at events, write and develop content, update your social profiles, comment and start discussions on social and professional networks. By building your reputation you will attract more clients for your business and gain the attention of potential business partners and employers.
Do This Now:
- Are you really good at something? Not making cakes. When it comes to events, what is your specialty? Start talking about it online.
- Start an email newsletter, a blog, an Instagram account, a Youtube channel. Be specific, be niche, be vertical.
- Start speaking about your chosen subjects. Many events are desperate for free speakers (poor them), yet this can be a good exercise to get better at speaking. Toastmasters on steroids. Go for it.
Negativity could be one of the biggest things holding you back in your life and event planning career. When the negative seems overwhelming, let the positive back in again with some of these strategies and tips to get ahead.
In a world where we are tuned into every bad news story with first-hand details and images of the horrific atrocities of our time, it’s hard not to live in the negative sometimes. The first step is to decide that you want to be positive and commit to it, after all, it is a choice and only you can let the negativity build back up again. To bring more positivity in your life, try focusing on some of these areas.
1. Avoid Ignoring Problems
They say ignorance is bliss but in the world of negativity (and events!) ignoring your problems can sometimes be the root of them. By putting your problems, fears or issues to one side it does not alleviate the problem and it can cloud your perception subconsciously, essentially the opposite of looking through rose-tinted glasses. The longer this goes on, the more it amplifies and, before long, you have a metaphorical storm cloud hanging over your head and you are more likely to make irrational or negative decisions.
Whether on a personal or event level – deal with your problems head-on and even if they aren’t quickly dealt with, they won’t shroud the other goodness and stop you from seeing the broader positivity.
Do This Now:
- List the largest challenges in your current job.
- Prioritize them according to the impact they have on your career.
- Create a plan to face them, little by little.
2. Be Realistic
Positivity is great but being overly optimistic, especially in the world of events, can set yourself up for failure. Things (and events) go wrong and sometimes life can be unfair. Instead, choose to be a realistic optimist who hopes for the best but prepares for all outcomes so that defeat or failure isn’t so crushing. When setting goals, be realistic and know what you can or can’t achieve so that even if you fall short, you don’t start letting self-doubt and negative personal thoughts back in.
Do This Now:
- Search for the top five jobs you would like to land in 2018.
- Prioritize them according to the match with your skills. Be honest and look for an experience/requirement match.
- List all the gaps you need to fill to land your best match. Work to fill those gaps and apply!
3. Mix It Up
Even the best routines can get boring and monotonous if they are repetitive and this is the case for work and personal life. Variety is the spice of life after all and trying new things and changing your everyday routine can trigger the reward sensation to help keep you happy. Mix it up, keeping variety and changing your routine will keep you on your toes and helps to combat the negativity that monotony brings.
Do This Now:
- Have a glass of wine a couple of times a week instead of every night.
- Break your lunch break routine. Get new food, take a walk around, talk to a colleague, spend time on YouTube training yourself on new skills.
- Stop working as they taught you to. Can you do anything different and get a better result?
4. Let It Go
Elsa had a point – should be asking yourself, do these negative thoughts REALLY matter? Don’t hold onto grudges or resentment because the only person they will be affecting is you. You don’t need that kind of negativity plaguing your thoughts. Judgement can also be a slippery slope back to the negative city so you should aim to let go of judging people and yourself because most of the time you don’t have the whole picture and being critical breeds more bad thoughts.
Do This Now:
- What event(s) compromised your career? What missed opportunity are you regretting?
- Make a list of all the key milestones and moments you regret. Write them down on a sheet of paper.
- Take that sheet of paper and toss it in the garbage. Start leading your new life. You are not defined by your past.
5. Reinforce Through Activities
It’s all about what you do, saying you’re going to be a positive person and doing it are completely different things. Reinforce your own positivity by practicing positive activities and healthy activities that can help you to train your brain to be happy. Doing these things can be more powerful than the mental aspect of positivity so if you find yourself having a bad day, reinforce your positivity by physically being positive and let it wash the negative thoughts away.
Do This Now:
- Accept that your mind won’t work if your body doesn’t. Surrender to the fact you have to continuously train yourself, whether it is body or mind.
- Don’t just sign up for courses. Don’t expect someone else to make the change for you. Engage in physical activities where you are the one that needs to push through.
- Walk, run, do steps, do push-ups, do meditation, pick up a hobby but be independent, train your mind and your body.
6. Be Present
Often, you become negative without even realizing it, you can be on ‘autopilot’ throughout your day and before you know it, you can’t name a single happy or positive experience. We tend to miss out on the small, everyday occurrences that can lift us up because we merely aren’t paying attention. Being present in the moment can help you to identify the good in your life that you haven’t quite been seeing.
Being present also gives us the tools to stop negativity in its tracks. You should practice being positively present by stopping at the end of your day and thinking of three entirely positive things that happened or that you felt today. It can be difficult but it helps to train your brain to see what is right in front of you and get used to identifying positivity rather than just the negative.
Do This Now:
- Get rid of your phone for a couple of hours a day, during the day, while you are wide awake.
- Don’t tell yourself the lie that tablets or mobiles help you concentrate, they don’t. Listen to the people in your office speaking. Listen to the speaker at the event you go to.
- Listen to the people around you. Especially to your family. Practice saying yes to what they tell or ask of you. You will start to feel forced to listen.
7. Positive Support System
Negativity breeds and surrounding yourself with negative people tend to drag you down with them. On a good day they will kill your buzz and on a bad day, they can send you spiraling. Instead, surround yourself with people who are positive and optimistic who try to see the good in life and people and you will find you have support for the bad days and have a lot more amazing ones.
This is not to say you should ditch all of your old friends just because they are having a bad day, instead, try to encourage them to see the positive as well, negativity isn’t the only thing that breeds. Try to avoid people who are negative ALL the time, they will only bring you down.
Do This Now:
- Make a list of the people who you support, empower, give energy to.
- Identify whether they give you all of the above back in some form.
- If they don’t, navigate away from them for a little while. Focus on those that give you positive energy back.
8. Pay It Forward
Sometimes the last thing you want to do when having a bad day is interact further with others, but being kind, generous and grateful towards others is a way of making your day better, as well as theirs. Doing a good deed for the day not only helps your karma in balance but makes you feel good about yourself. Taking a moment to step outside the negativity of your life to focus on someone else can be a positive distraction that can improve your day.
It doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy, just talking to someone or buying a cup of coffee for a homeless person or even volunteering if you have the time. There are plenty of small acts of kindness that can help spread positivity into your life.
Do This Now:
- Perform one random act of kindness every week.
- Spend time adding value to someone in your office.
- Do some charity work.
They say a problem shared is a problem halved and this can be true, as we mentioned, holding in anger and resentment can cause it to bubble over. Conversely sharing your concerns with someone, especially within your support system, can drastically make everything feel better and make a situation more manageable. Speaking to others about negative thoughts can also help you to refocus your priorities and often saying things out loud and getting a new perspective can make something that seemed large in your head to become much smaller and inconsequential.
Do This Now:
- Identify if you are really able to overcome your career obstacles by yourself.
- If you are not, reach out to your community. Seek out professional help.
- Sometimes speaking out loud in forums anonymously can be purifying. Let go.
10. Write A Journal
It may seem trivial but journaling can help fight negativity by helping you to retrain your brain. Writing about a situation or your day can highlight how you see things and allows you to go back over them and analyze how and why you felt this way and what made you so negative – which is the first step to changing to a more positive outlook.
Do This Now:
- Start a journal.
- In your journal write about three good things that happened that day and what you achieved. You will notice over time that you have more than three or you will go into more detail as time goes on.
- As you read back on your past accounts of situations you will be able to see how your brain has changed to become more positive because you were looking for it. You will naturally be seeing things from a whole new light.
11. Get Physical
People underestimate the link between the physical and the mental and regular exercise can not only provide a scapegoat to deal with tension and negative feelings but the physical endorphins released will also help make you feel better too. Exercising with others can also create a new social network and support for you to hold you accountable. Alternatively, try long walks or at home workouts that will have the same impact.
Do This Now:
- Get off your mobile phone or your computer now. Don’t worry, this article will be waiting for you when you get back.
- Go out, take a walk, start running, get on the floor and do some push-ups.
- Aim to move three to five times a week. It’s as important as your job.
Before the pros tell us what they think, we know that event managers must be skilled in a variety of areas including:
- Building connections: From landing clients to building a successful team and giving attendees an experience they’ll never forget, this profession is all about the people we connect with from attendees to other event profs.
- Details: The big picture is great but forgetting the meaningful/intimate details means you’ll likely be looking for a new career soon.
- Stress management: Big thrills and attendee experiences require a lot of multi-tasking and deadline juggling.
- Managing relationships: It doesn’t do you any good to only be adept at landing clients and registering attendees. You need to handle the maintenance stuff too and work to continue relationships even when it’s hard.
- Innovation: Event planners do more than juggling. They need to be looking at what’s on the horizon while they’re juggling and driving 100 miles per hour. Innovation makes the difference between event management as a job or as your career.
But exactly how do these areas fit into the necessary skills required of an event organizer? Let’s turn to the experts and see what they have to say.
Kevin Jurczyk, National Marketing Director at Branstrator Sunrooms and Basement Systems of America
- Resourcefulness. In my opinion, this is the most important. With years of experience in events, there is always something that requires a creative fix. Whether it be a piece of tape, or re-working a display because the display across the aisle looks too much like yours. You have to be very resourceful and use what you have and pool together the individuals you need.
- Excellent time management. The ability to coordinate not only yourself but the scheduling of the entire team helping with the event. It’s all about planning, and re-planning and scheduling.
- Communication skills. Share your ideas and your vision openly with your team. Communicate on a level that is respectful to everyone. Do not talk down to anyone, regardless of their role. Everyone has their part and it ultimately leads to your success, make sure you communicate clearly and respectfully. Accept criticism and be open to new ideas.
- Passion. Without passion, you cannot overcome the bumps and triumph when all seems lost. I can train time management, but I cannot teach passion.
- Strong will, but a level head. You have to be able to carry out your vision and sometimes crack the whip to get it done. Resolve problems and issues quickly. And you must be able to stand calm at zero hour when something doesn’t go your way. Your team should look to you for everything, the last thing they need is a shaky leader that makes rash decisions because they crack under pressure.
Chris Donahue, Regional Technical Trainer at PSAV – Presentation Services
- Excellent time management
- Good communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Ability to creatively solve problems
- Staying calm at all times
Chris Catoggio, Independent Event Services Professional
- Great people skills. The event manager needs to be communicative, with the ability to listen and understand what the client is looking to achieve, as well as being able to convey that concept when selecting and negotiating with vendors.
- Organization skills. The event manager needs to coordinate a number of responsibilities and manage many teams simultaneously.
- Flexibility. Third, an event manager needs to be flexible. In any event, things can and will change at a moments notice. The event manager needs to be able to, for lack of a better word, PUNT.
- Responsibility. An event manager must be responsible. Regardless of what goes right and what goes wrong, the success of an event, and all its coordinates is the manager’s responsibility.
- Enthusiastic and passionate. Finally, a successful event manager needs to be enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. Enthusiasm and passion bring about creativity and generates excitement. Maybe, this should be #1!
David Schenberg, CEO, Busy Event – a div. of Panamedia
- Treats everyone as a peer and with respect… even under pressure
- A level of experience that allows the client to sleep at night
- Ability to diffuse an explosive situation
- Extensive network of trusted professionals they can count on
- Active exploration and listening skills that translate into critical knowledge
Nicole Price, Event Guru, McCormick & Schmick’s says:
- Flexibility with respect to understanding your customers’ needs
- Strong organizational skills AND the ability to communicate them
- Accessibility – to your customers and colleagues
- Grace under fire!
- Excellent, well-trained team to help implement and run the event
In a nutshell… able to achieve just about anything in a New York minute, while keeping a smile on my face, managing half a million other items at the same time and making it all look easy. But it IS easy, right? That’s why we do what we do.
Kevin R. Johnston, CMP – CEO, Advantage Event Group
- Be a Blackbelt Contract Negotiator. Ultimately, the event measurement is two-fold; satisfaction and budget. A great event with superior satisfaction is often viewed as unsuccessful when the finances are all in.
- Must have a huge Rolodex. You need to be able to contact a master craftsman in all areas. Having the ability to assemble the right players who will deliver consistently is a must.
- Must be respected. If a producer is not respected by his boss, peers and contractors, the results may be good, but never great.
- Must double as a janitor or fireman. Often, dealing with cleaning up messes and putting out fires is part of the job. Quickly, quietly and efficiently. Get it done, then get back to the task at hand.
- Be passionate. If it is just a job or a paycheck any event planner will be viewed as average. The passion to make it more productive, more exciting, more, more, more, is what drives this business. Otherwise, we’d all be eating on white tablecloths with votive candles and parquet dance floors.
Dare to be different, take calculated risks and make sure that you have a great team that has your back (and you, theirs).
Cher Lon Malik, Office Manager, Informatica
- Flexibility – do not freak out – there will be last-minute changes always
Rohit Kumar, Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University
You can’t do everything yourself.
- Ability to delegate to trusting people.
- Setting benchmarks.
- Sharing vision.
- Establishing feedback channels.
Anuroopa Banerjee Gupta, Marketing Communications expert
- Plans for the best but is well prepared for the worst and equipped to turn around the worst to the best advantage.
(I know of someone who was working on a tradeshow. She got the entire booth set up, which took until 3 am. When she arrived the next day, 30 minutes before showtime, she realized the Co-President’s profile shot poster has been posted in a manner that his nose got chopped off- She actually got a replacement 7ft x 3 ft poster mounted before the show – she had an extra poster)
- Has excellent interpersonal skills
- Is a great negotiator
- Has excellent time management capabilities
- Is a driven go-getter, self-motivated and never crumbles under pressure
Tushar Panchal, Public Relations, Communications, Branding, Corporate Affairs
- Get the brief right.
- Know your consumer.
- Work within budgets.
- Time is crucial.
- Never ever lose control.
Michael Miller, Director of Sales & Marketing, Tiki’s Grill & Bar/Holokai Grill
- Understanding and exceeding client goals.
- Plan and execute events so that guests enjoy being at the event.
- Follow through.
- Have a critical eye for details (before, during and after the event).
- Ability to train and retain great staff.
Laura Rivas, Events and Sales Manager
- Attention to details.
- Good organization skills.
- Flexibility to change.
- Excellent communicator.
- Diplomacy (with clients and vendors).
James Minella, Event Operations Director
Each person has to identify their strong points and accentuate those assets while identifying their areas of improvement and addressing those on a daily basis. In general, I would say any successful event manager needs to:
- Be extremely organized – overly so.
- Maintain a big picture philosophy at all times, meaning you work on every detail while keeping in perspective the larger impact and goal.
- Be a good – actually great – multi-tasker. To successfully run any program you are going need to ensure that 50 things are getting done at once, whether it’s in preparation or execution of the program.
- Possess strong interpersonal skills. You need to be comfortable reacting to and dealing with high-level executives, government officials, vendors, co-workers, sponsor representatives, customers, supervisors, suppliers, full-time staff, part-time staff, volunteers and more.
- Be creative and flexible. I think these two go together because in the event business things are always changing. You must be flexible to develop a solution and a solution comes about as a result of your creativity.
Nicole Bennett, Owner, Perry Consulting
- Know how to listen to understand. Your clients are not in this industry and therefore don’t speak the lingo or know what is available. You have to be able to discern their needs.
- Flexibility. People don’t like to block walls, you have to be able to provide options.
- Enjoy creative problem-solving. No matter how well you plan, something will pop up and you must enjoy being able to solve challenges quickly and with the resources at hand.
- Time management skills. You should know how to multitask but you should be able to plan your day in a way that gives you blocks of time where you can focus solely on the project at hand. Your end product will be much more thorough. You should also be organized so you don’t waste time looking for things and reinventing forms/files etc.
- Industry expertise. Your clients come to you because they trust you have knowledge in an area they need guidance. You do your customer and the industry a disservice if you call yourself an event professional if you don’t have the skills/experience to back it up.
Suzan Patrick, seasoned Meeting & Event Planner
- Patience is my number 1. Without it, we don’t belong in this arena.
- Flexibility. There are always going to be “fires to put out”, things that change and people who don’t do what they say they are going to do.
- Listening skills. It’s one thing to listen – and yet another to hear. Hear what’s said and what’s NOT said.
- Intuition. I think this goes without saying, but a keen intuition – being able to foresee things, predict what may need to happen (or not)… is very important.
- Organizational skills. The best planners I’ve worked for/with are the ones with binders with tabs, sticky notes, checklists, to-do lists, etc. We are a rare breed (and we’re not all Virgos)! Planning events requires the ability to think on your feet, but remember it all!
Nicole Jensen, Independent Events Services Professional
- Fantastic self-discipline. I’m still learning this one.
- Expert in listening, so that one does not make the event turn out how they want it, but how the client wants. In the long-term, this also means market research. Listen to your market and customers.
- Flexibility. Management means problem-solving. Keep those ideas and options coming!
- Time management, naturally.
- Personality. You cannot expect to manage people’s “super happy fun times” with a blank character!
Petra Johansson, Independent Events Services Professional
- Strong organizational skills, ability to multitask.
- People orientated and approachable.
- Strong communicator.
- Ability to quickly find easy solutions to any problems.
- A passion for event organizing.
Betsy Fowler, Events Services Professional
Most would agree that an event planner needs to be organized and come prepared for the worst. But from step one, you need to be able to listen. This will put you in sync with your client and your team and let you stay at least half a step ahead. All that and a sense of humor (and perhaps a little Jimmy Buffett “if we weren’t all crazy we would be insane”) equal a successful event planner.
Paula Entwistle-Mille, Account Manager, Ketchum
- A problem solver by nature.
- Predict all sorts of problems at the event and looks at individual logical solutions to each.
- Know each and every vendor of every little thing.
- Creativity – to create the event/the story behind the show.
- PR and communication skills.
Jose Farias, Event Resource Specialist
- A true leader – able to learn, teach and focus on the goal.
- Able to keep good relations and create new ones.
- Able to create teamwork with the winning attitude to rise above the competition.
Doyle Slayton, Executive Director & Sales Strategist, SalesBlogcast
- Leadership skills
Chandrabhan Gupta, Management Consultant & Expert Banks Security
- Great show management skills.
- On time and timely event management skills.
- Ability to work out and provide the best economical infrastructure for the event.
- Flawless event coordination skills.
- Good crowd control
Greg Ruby, CASE CEM CMP, Experienced Event Management Specialist, Baltimore Convention Center
- Be detail-oriented, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the more important items with the bulk of your work, but do a cursory check on the less important items.
- Never let them see you sweat! Always remain cool, calm and collected when dealing with other people, while you may be a bundle of nerves on the inside.
- Have a sense of humor. We are not talking rocket science here. Have fun with the work and the people you work with, and in most cases, they will want to work with you again in the future.
- Be well connected. You can’t do it all and are going to need help. Have names in mind of people who can help you.
- Think outside the box. Just because it has always been done that way doesn’t mean that it still has to be done that way. Take risks and be bold.
Sanjeev Kotnala, AVP and National Head of Brand Communications, Bhaskar Group
It is the success of their events that get event planners the tag of being successful. Successful event managers are only as good as their last assignment.
In my view what is needed is:
- Passion: The job of event manager can be a thankless job. The person must have internal passion and zeal to overcome simple failures, learn fast to be able to work on the next assignments.
- Knowledge and Business Sense: They must understand the business as well as the covert and the overt professional reasons for the event to be happening. And hence must be in a capacity to provide the right input and direction to the client.
- Swiss Army Knife: They must be multi-dimensional, good at multitasking, with no issues in rolling their sleeves up at times to overcome a shortage of resources or to avert the last minute crisis.
- Manpower Manager: People are the main resource that event planners work with and methods to excite, motivate or reprimand are essential. This may, in fact, be one of the most important factors.
- Consistency: He moves through a ladder of confidence and builds trust, faith, and respect, which are necessary to have a successful event.
Communication, networking, keeping everyone in the loop and exploitation of the situation are some other factors, but the top five in my view have been listed above.
Ramesh Chetwani, SPEX Manager, Informedia India
- Being proactive (I was surprised no one has mentioned this quality).
- Excellent salesman.
- Good at multitasking.
- CRM: Customer Retention Management!
Silvia Malesardi, Events Management Assistant, Trentino Tourist Board
- Good planning skills
- Good communication skills
- Playmaker (creating relationships)
- Managing complex projects
- High self-control
Rita-Eileen Glynn Smith, Marketing, Event Management & Communications Professional
- You must be psychic – to anticipate what no one else can imagine.
- You must be modest – there’s no job “too small” that you will not do.
- You must be clairvoyant – to intuitively understand what hasn’t been communicated or articulated.
- You must practice magic – because sometimes you’ll be expected to create something out of nothing.
- You must like to smile – because come ‘showtime’ it’s the best feeling ever.
Emma May, Sr. Events Marketing Manager, Athlon Sports
Event managers are some of the hardest working people in business today and there are many more than five attributes that make one successful but here is a good start:
- Strong and pleasant negotiator.
- Extraordinary work ethic and ability to roll up sleeves.
- Always remember who he/she is working for (the client).
- Calm under pressure/good poker face.
- Detail oriented/good eye for design.
Richard O’Malley, Owner-President, The O’Malley Project
- Great relationships with vendors.
- The willingness to get their hands dirty.
- Attentive to the needs of their crews.
- A desire to create something great, not just get through it.
Jill McClure, CSEP, CMP, Senior Vice President
I’ve known many event managers who can organize their way out of a wet paper bag with the lights off. But, these are the qualities that make someone succeed, and not just survive.
- Understand the business case and financial outcome required for the event.
- Know how to be a problem solver; events are vehicles for strategic solutions and not just a list of logistics to organize.
- Provide leadership for the entire team including vendors, stakeholders, clients, staff, etc.
- Communicate effectively and delegate efficiently.
- Negotiate with an outcome of fair profits, fair deadlines, and fair expectations for all parties involved.
Christopher Noyes, CMP, Events and Programs Director, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce
- Good with people
- Cares about overall quality and event success vis-a-vis all event stakeholders.
- Knows how to prioritize.
- Thinks on their feet.
- Great at delegating.
- Not resistant to doing the dirty work when needed.
What would you say are the top qualities of a successful event manager? Statistically here is what the majority agreed on:
Top 5 qualities of a successful event manager
Organization didn’t take the top spot, as you may have expected. Instead, flexibility and people skills were deemed the most important qualities for successful event planners. Of course, passion for event planning is important too. Nonetheless, we found all answers for what skills you need to be successful event planning very revealing, which is why we wanted to share them with you. Those who can show initiative and gel well within a company culture will succeed in this people-driven industry and you can always back this up with event planner skills and experience as you learn.
So there you have it. Complete advice on the key skills for event management and what it takes to get your resume noticed and land your dream job as an event coordinator.
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