The special event world is demanding and stressful, but can also be very rewarding. The glowing smile of an event guest can’t be overstated. It gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you’ve put your own personal imprint on that attendee’s experience. Crafting these special memories is a tall order, and constantly pushing the boundaries is difficult. Special events are unique beasts in the sense that you’re never really able to template your systems or create a cookie-cutter process. Re-inventing the wheel is an everyday task. To lead in an industry of creative thinkers and innovators, you need to always be educating yourself and pushing yourself to the limit. Here are 11 ways to help take your event career to the next level:
Without a doubt, mentorship is the most important and significant way to expedite the learning process in any industry – events included. The age old tradition of seeking knowledge from those with more experience is nothing new, nor will it ever change. The passing down of wisdom and expertise is more valuable than anything traditional learning can provide. Seek out mentors. Yes, mentors with an “s”. Why settle for one when you can have multiple?
Constant education and courses
Never stop learning. Simply put, you will never learn “everything”. You will never plateau or max out your knowledge level. Yearn to achieve more and stay hungry when it comes to knowledge. It keeps things interesting and exciting, while vaulting you to the top of your craft. This likely means a more successful business, both in terms of the financials as well as the type of work you bring on. Enroll in an online course or register for an event management course at your local community college. Continue to feed your brain with wisdom nuggets.
Always be asking if something can be done more efficiently or effectively
Never stop questioning things. When complacency sets in, you may be on the brink of a downward spiral. Taking things for granted and thinking things are “good enough” are killers. Question everything you do and every decision you make on an ongoing basis. Though this may sound tedious and somewhat taxing, it is an important exercise to stay at the top of your game. World-renowned experts and the best-of-the-best are always looking to tweak their craft and improve upon the last outing. Question everything and be sure to take your findings and put them to good use.
Attend conferences to advance your event career
There are very few times throughout the year when we get an opportunity to learn from and mingle with some of the top minds in the event world. Conferences are rare occasions when these brilliant minds converge. Capitalize on this. Choose conferences that suit your needs and attract a quality speaker list. Once you’ve signed up, don’t stop there. Carefully choose your sessions and most importantly, determine who you’d really like to meet at the conference. Often, this list includes the keynote speakers and other industry names, but it could also include lesser known industry names whom you may admire through their work.
Be willing to meet with new people
Obviously, the earlier on in your event career, the more you tend to network, take meetings, and consider all potential avenues to attract new business and learn more about the industry. That being said, some event professionals phase this out over time once they start to get busier or more successful. This is a bad move. Continually meeting with new faces and having new conversations can do many things for you including open new doors, generate new contacts or connections, provide an energy boost, create friendships, solve a business problem, and many more benefits. The serendipity of new meetings is fun, exciting, and extremely valuable.
Consider a business coach
Depending on where you’re at in your event career, a business coach may be a strategic move to help you take things to the next level. Perhaps you’re living inside the box and you need an outside perspective to get you over a hurdle. Or perhaps you’ve tapped out all the business in a certain niche and you’re looking at other potential avenues or markets. Either way, a business coach may just provide that new angle that helps you see things more clearly, while providing a critical analysis from the outside looking in. Another potential option would be a life coach if you feel this is a better fit with where you’re at in business and life.
Internal briefings and reviews
Being critical of your work, no matter how much praise you may have received, is important. Though everything may seem perfect from a client or outside perspective, there is always room for improvement. Being nit-picky can be frustrating and energy draining, but do this only after you’ve celebrated your victories. Perhaps the location of the bar wasn’t optimal or choice of flowers could have been better or the event agenda ran too long. Looking back at old photos and videos is a great way to do this. There is always something to be learned for next time. Equipped with this new knowledge and this arsenal of experience, you will be better suited to deal with a multitude of event conditions in the future.
Educate yourself in other event areas
Most event professionals aren’t planners, organizers, or managers. Most live within a niche such as catering, decor, sound & lighting, entertainment, etc… That being said, these groups shouldn’t limit their knowledge to their realm alone. Knowing the other facets of an event may help you improve your process and systems, while facilitating and optimizing future growth. In addition, the networking and business-building cannot be overshadowed.
This may fall under multiple other categories, but it does deserve its own headings. Video is by far the most engaging form of online content. Text, white papers, manuals, and even photos don’t come close. Video hasn’t been proven to maximize engagement and increase learning. Beyond the obvious educational videos, other great content includes top event professional interviews and behind-the-scenes clips. What better way to learn how the best do it than hearing from them? Search and source interviews with your role models. Hearing their words may provide new light or much needed motivation.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Over the years, you’ve heard that reading books will advance your knowledge and increase your creativity. Well,it’s true! There are thousands of quality event books that will inspire and inform. But don’t just pigeon-hole yourself with industry-related books. Feel free to pick up a fictional novel or a non-industry book. Providing new perspective and bringing in outside thought is a very good way to bring about new ideas and concepts for your events. Consider that many of the top event professionals in the world look to film, music, fashion, and other art forms for inspiration.
Whether industry-specific or otherwise, attending mixers is a valuable way to meet new contacts, nurture and cultivate relationships, as well as solidify important bonds and partnerships. Being top of mind in your space requires a constant presence in strategic circles. Locking in new business can often be deemed as “lucky”, but if you equip yourself with the proper knowledge and skill set, and you put yourself in areas of opportunity (like mixers), you’re bound to start landing new business and building business with current clients.
Taking your career to the next level is not an overnight process. It takes significant time and process. But breaking this commitment into small, manageable chunks will ensure that you’re constantly working toward a new level. Consistent growth and perpetual absorption of knowledge is what’s needed to stand out in the field. After all, the event world is a competitive field. Only the best reach the top, and it’s not by chance. Perseverance and hunger fuel the fire. Pushing the boundaries can be exhausting, but following these few tips will hopefully help make it seem more feasible and inspire you to never settle for status quo.
A few event quotes to leave you with:
- “Never stop learning. You can never know everything.”
- “There is no such thing as perfection – there is always room for improvement.”
- “Celebrate your wins, but be hungry to improve.”
- “You’re only as good as your last event.”
- “Special events are an art form – there isn’t a right or wrong way of doing things. It’s all a matter of perspective and opinion.”
Founder & Creative Director, Brink Events
Aidan’s imaginative concepts and ideas have transformed empty spaces into spectacular social events. His inspiration stems from memorable guest moments and experiences. He believes that creating these moments is a big responsibility, but also a great honour. That drives his passion to constantly innovate and push the creative boundaries.
“The reason I enjoy event design so much is that when we look back in life, we don’t remember the day-to-day or week-to-week. We remember special moments and many of these come from special events. My job is to create these memories and experiences.”