Interviewing Other Planners and Potential Clients
Somewhere in your research you will want to interview other planners to get a sense of the fees they charge. While individuals may not be open to discussing their salary outright, you might get a sense of the percentages an event planner quotes from shadowing her for a day.
Need more insight? Enlist the help of friends who might have used planners in the past. Ask your friends and family members to recall the services offered by their planner and the costs associated. If all else fails, you can plan a bogus event in a city far away and get quotes from planners. Do not forget to ask about the planners' experience. Send a thank-you note and tell the planner you decided to go with someone else. You want to reach the event planner before his follow-up call.
Listening to advice, tips, and personal anecdotes other event planners may share is another reason to set up interviews. You should take notes. Learning from your mistakes (or someone else's) is part of the learning process. Other questions to ask an event planner:
What type of advertisements do you pay for?
How do the majority of your clients find you?
How do you find the majority of your clients?
How did you get your start?
Event Planner Advice
Gaining experience means taking a variety of jobs in the beginning. From time to time you will be presented with an event that isn't in your field. You may want to consider taking the job to gain some valuable experience. You could also meet a vendor you would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet, or you could meet a future contact. Also, the client that is asking you to plan her mother's seventy-fifth birthday may also have a daughter getting engaged in six months. By spending some time with this client and working up a proposal, you are building your reputation as someone who is professional, patient, and courteous — all worthwhile attributes when clients are shopping for an event planner.
The Value of an Inquiry
Meeting with every client who inquires about your service is also a good way to build your database. You may not value the time you spend with this client when she is inquiring about a holiday party in the spring and you are extremely busy, but when she attends your fall fundraiser because she was on your e-mail list, it can make it all worthwhile.
When starting out, there is one fundamental rule of thumb: Take every meeting and phone call. Being available to potential clients is the first step in a successful career.
Getting started means building your resume and preparing for the interviewing process. Getting started can also mean you are building your clientele and setting up your office for your new event-planning business. If you think your experience doesn't translate well to a resume, consider a volunteer program, a co-op, or internships as a way to get started. All of your hard work will pay off when you successfully complete an event for your first client or land your dream job.