Posts tagged networking

Very belated thanks to Lara at Ready.2.Spark!

ready 2 spark - ideas and inspirations for events

I’m incredibly embarrassed to realize I have yet to publicly express my gratitude to Lara over at ready.2.spark for her thoughtful and inspiring response to my question of how to break into the event planning biz. Hats off to her for taking the time to share her advice and experience for those of us still looking for opportunities to realize our career aspirations. For anyone who may have missed her comment, here it is in entirety:

Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog and directing me to yours! The answer to your question is an easy one for me. Although I wasn’t a student, I did join the special events industry 2 short years ago (from a totally unrelated industry). I knew no one. I knew nothing about events (other than the ones I had attended as a guest). My goal was simple – learn as much as I can and meet as many people in the shortest time possible. I set out to find an industry affiliation that could help me achieve my goals. After considering a few, my choice was ISES (International Special Events Society). ISES is a world-wide organization dedicated to 1) providing networking opportunities, 2) improving education of its members, 3) furthering the industry as a whole. It’s very easy to find a local chapter by visiting I recommend that you attend an event or two before joining. Make sure the people, the content, the opportunities are relevant to you. I’ve heard a complaint from a few students that the cost to attend an event is too high. I believe in looking at your ROI (return on investment). To me, sacrificing a week’s worth of Starbucks coffee is a small price to pay for the opportunity to make great business connections.

The goal of a recent graduate should be TO MEET PEOPLE. In order to do that, you have to get out and talk to professionals. Contact the President of your local chapter (you can usually look them up on the chapter’s website) and tell them that you’re a student looking to meet professionals. Ask them if they can arrange to introduce you to members at the event. Be prepared. Write down a few questions that are important to you and use them as opportunities to engage in communication.

Next, I’d recommend that you get involved in a committee. ISES chapters are always looking for help – help to plan events, increase membership, etc. Offer your services. This will be real-life experience that you can add to a resume. This rule should apply for any organization. NFPs (not for profits) are always looking for help with their events. You won’t get paid, but you will be rewarded with an enriching experience.

Another idea is to find a company you’d love to work with and offer your services at no cost for 2 weeks. Tell them how much you’d love to work with them and communication why they’d love to work with you. Get your foot in the door and show them why you’re great. (one tip, to ensure your services are not taken advantage of, is to ensure they’re hiring or open to hiring – this way your expectations are set. It’s up to you if you want to donate your time to someone who’s not hiring, but make sure you know this before investing your time).

Lastly, image is very important…especially in this industry. Dress for the job you want. Hold your head up. Be assertive. Be nice. Be inquisitive. Be helpful. Be honest. Act as if every encounter is an informal interview. Determine what message you want to convey and ensure it’s communicated. And, most of all, enjoy yourself!


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