So, you want to be an event planner?

But maybe you don’t exactly have what would be considered “legitimate” experience.

Don’t let that crush your dreams. This is a common dilemma and there are plenty of work-arounds for it!

So, if you’re dreaming of a thriving career in event planning, but don’t know how to get your start, keep reading to learn a few simple hacks to spring your way into being the event planner everyone’s talking about.

First: Find Your Focus

Before delving in to drumming up business, it’s important to hone your focus. There are LOTS of events that need a planner and they are very different and require very different elements.

A wedding planner, for instance, is going to use different tools, methods and vendors than someone who focuses on small business meetings, networking events and training seminars. Someone who plans massive corporate, multi-day conferences is going to function very differently still.

While being multi-faceted is good, in the event planning game, you need to have your niche and be a master at it. This will help you gain the most valuable experience as well as gain clientele.

So, don’t try to do it all – decide what type of event planner you want to be and then steer the following hacks in that direction.

Second: Change Your Definition of “Experience”

A second important thing to remember is that “experience” does not only mean paid, professional experience. You may have never held the title of “event coordinator” before, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t gained relevant experience, or that you haven’t planned an event.

Were you in a high school or college club that you planned events for?

Are you a part of a church or a non-profit / volunteer organization that you help with events?

Has a friend asked you to plan or coordinate her wedding?

In any previous jobs, did you assist with any training seminars or parties?

If so, these are examples of relevant experience, even if you weren’t paid for them or even if you just helped a primary planner.

Also spend time thinking about what skills a good event planner needs. Now think about your past volunteer, work and education. Where have you applied those very skills, even if it wasn’t in an “event planning” situation?

Those are skills you have experience in, even if they were used outside of planning before. Play those up as well.

Now, this leads us to our hacks for getting actual opportunities…

Hack #1: Tap into Your Personal Network

Now that you have a focus area in mind and a better idea of what can qualify as experience, tap into your personal network to find relevant event opportunities.

Someone you know personally, like a family member, friend, past peer or co-worker, is more likely going to give you the chance to help plan or fully plan an event for them than someone who doesn’t know you.

If you are keen to help small businesses with meetings, network events, training seminars, etc., reach out to individuals you already know who own or work in a small business. Let them know what you’re doing, what experience or skills you bring to the table, and offer your services.

If you want to delve into wedding and party planning, reach out to the soon-to-be brides, graduates, mommies, etc. in your personal life.

Hack #2: Social Media It Up

Don’t forget how powerful social media networking is! Besides reaching out to and reminding your personal network about what you’re doing, using your social media, especially LinkedIn, will be a way to reach beyond your intimate social circle.

Be sure that your profiles reflect who you are striving to be, not what you have been in the past. Highlight your relevant skills and any relevant experience, even if it’s just been planning family members birthdays.  

You would be surprised at how many professionals catch their first real break because someone reached out to them through social media. It’s the way to go.

Hack #3: Create New Opportunities

Join event planning professional groups on social media and start interacting. Join a non-profit/volunteer organization and offer your assistance. You can even contact your local chamber of commerce to ask how you can help.

It’s going to take work to find and create opportunities for yourself to get experience, but the opportunities are out there, if you really want them.

Hack #4: Use Tools to Help Create a WOW Factor

Whether you land an opportunity with a family member, or a small local business, whether it’s strictly volunteer or paid, you will want to bring everything you’ve got to the table to wow and impress them.

The more you wow on these opportunities, the more you will start getting referrals and the faster you will grow a legitimate event planning business and gain a reputation.

To help you do that, you absolutely need to tap into some of the fantastic event mobile apps that are available now, such as those offered by MeetApp. These apps can help you interact with the audience and attendees of your event, keep them updated and informed, and will make their end experience amazing, which is exactly what you want to be known for.

Now you’re armed with some ideas of some hacks to help you catch your first break and how to wow everyone once you do. Get out there and get planning!