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Industry Trends Professional Development

Event Planning Q&A: How to Stay Relevant and Future Proof Your Career

By Meaghan Kelly on September 2, 2020

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Meaghan Kelly

As pc/nametag's in-house Word Wizard, Meaghan creates educational content that brings people together and drives meaningful conversations in the events industry.

There’s plenty of uncertainty these days around the future of events and what skills will be needed to stay relevant as an event planning professional. The good news? There are many strategies you can use to help “future proof” your career and become indispensable to your employer.

Join us as we interview Stephanie Martinez, a marketing and operations professional with over 13 years of event production experience, as she covers useful tips for adapting to change in the shifting events industry.

How to Future Proof Your Career in the Events Industry

 

pc/nametag: “Stephanie, tell me a bit about yourself. What is your experience working in the events industry?”

Photo of Stephanie Martinez

“I joined a media company as a web designer back in 2007 and had the good fortune to help create an events business. Once I started producing live events, they became my passion. I’ve produced events ranging from 100-5,000 participants. Most recently, like the rest of the industry, I’ve pivoted to virtual event production."

- Stephanie Martinez

PCN: “In your opinion, why is it important to adapt to change in the events industry?”

Martinez: “The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the events industry as we know it. In-person events continue to be postponed or cancelled, virtual events have exploded, and hybrid events will likely become the “norm” in late 2020 and beyond. Because of the inevitable change that will happen in coming years, it’s more important than ever for event planning professionals to adapt and find ways to future-proof their careers.”

 

PCN: “What skills do events professionals need in order to stay relevant?”

Martinez: “Today, events professionals are taking on more job responsibilities than ever before. While traditional event planning positions may have had relatively defined roles, today’s positions tend to lean more into data-driven and creative marketing tasks. For example, I’ve met planners who have learned how to edit web pages, update graphics for social media, pull registration reports, write blogs and learn new virtual event platforms.

If there’s one skill that today’s event planner needs, it’s flexibility. The most successful planners are willing to learn additional skills that might not be in their current wheelhouse.”

 

PCN: “What is the key to becoming indispensable at work and pivoting with the times?”

Martinez: “One of the best ways to become indispensable to your employer is by 'upskilling' and 'reskilling':

  • Upskilling is when an employee learns new skills in order to enhance performance in their current role.
  • Reskilling is when an employee learns new skills in order to succeed at a different role.

Did you know that the World Economic Forum says that over half of all employees (54%) will require significant reskilling by 2022? Yet only 30% of employees at risk of job displacement from technological changes received training in the past year. Now is the time to invest in yourself as a professional and advance your skills through personal development."

Event coordinator working on upskilling in her free time

PCN: “If someone is interested in upskilling, where should he or she start?”

Martinez: “I would start by ensuring your tech skills are on point. Here are three suggestions I have that will help you stand out among your peers in the event industry:

1. Master a project management tool.

A project management software (like Asana, Basecamp or Wrike) is designed to help you plan, organize and manage your day-to-day tasks. Not only can you track how many hours it takes to complete a task, you can also track where you may be falling behind. If you’re looking to collect solid data that highlights your strengths and blockers, a project management system is the way to go.

2. Learn the “ins” and “outs” of live production.

This is an area that I feel every event planner should learn more about. With the rising popularity of hybrid events, it’s crucial to learn the basics of live production so you can make smart decisions around having the right team in place and the best rates for equipment rental and labor.

Start by talking to an AV tech or technical director. By being curious about live production, you’re becoming a steward of your company’s funds and ensuring the best production possible.

3. Invest in professional development.

Professional development helps you to stay competent and excel in your profession. You’ll also ensure that your skills and knowledge of trends stay up to date. Here are some professional development classes that I’d suggest planners invest their time in:

  • Basic Web Publishing: WordPress and HubSpot are two examples of popular web publishing tools that many organizations use today to build their websites.
  • Graphic Design 101: A picture is worth a thousand words! Knowing how to articulate what you’re trying to say through visuals is a great skill to have. Plus, you never know when you may need to resize a sponsor logo!
  • Basic Color Theory: It’s important to leverage the right colors to convey the right feel and support your organization’s branding. Graphic design software like Canva can help you to easily visualize your designs.

My suggestion is to check out LinkedIn Learning for web courses on graphic design and web production. You may also find Udemy or Coursera online courses helpful."


Woman attends online learning class for professional development

PCN: “What does the future of event planning look like for professionals?”

Martinez: “Technology plays a huge role in how we work in the events industry. Each year, we perform more and more of our work online and through digital technologies. A challenge with technology, however, is that it is constantly changing and employers can’t always wait on hiring applicants who are fully trained in a specific application.

Event professionals need to master the latest trends the technology behind virtual and hybrid events, but most importantly, they need to embrace learning since we will be doing it rapidly for some time to come. Virtual events are here to stay, so make it a point to embrace change.

Additionally, event planners will also need to become more selective with the events they produce, especially from a profitability standpoint. Some organizations simply can’t afford to do an event with little-to-no discernable ROI. A great alternative to hosting an event with low ROI is to repurpose it into a podcast, white paper, webinar or written guide. Hybrid events are expensive, so make sure the ROI is there before you begin."

 

PCN: “What closing advice can you give to planners to ensure future success?”

Martinez: “My greatest advice is to learn by doing. Don’t be afraid to gain a basic understanding of new topics and skill sets. You don’t need to be an expert right away. Just know that the skills you learn along the way will serve as a testament to your leadership skills and ability to adapt to change.

Second, I’d advise event professionals to be open to taking on technology-focused solutions to challenges. This may take the form of working with new partners, investing in professional development and discovering new ways of measuring event success.

Lastly, I’ve found that the most successful event planning professionals maintain a mindset that focuses on three things: elasticity, adaptability and flexibility. They’re constantly prepared for the unexpected and stay flexible. Luckily, event professionals are no strangers to change. Live events have primed us well for thinking on the fly! You’ve got this.

 

Meeting Planners: What’s Your Success Story?

How have you pivoted within your career? What educational training or resources have you found most helpful in this ever-evolving industry? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Chances are if it’s helpful to you, it will be helpful to someone else!

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