Things I learned in my first year as an event coordinator

    By Anna Gill, Meeting and Event Coordinator


    Coming in to my first job after college, I knew a few things for certain: I was good with people, I liked being on my feet (and hated being at a desk), and I didn’t want to take the traditional corporate route that most of my fellow classmates were taking, at least not right away. Beyond that, I was your average “just-left-college-not really-sure-what-I’m-eating-for-dinner-let-alone-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life“graduate being thrown into the world of adulthood. My knowledge of the events industry and its complexities, let alone what it takes to hold a full-time job, was low. Yet here I found myself, moving away from the town I had lived in for 22 years, and starting a career in a new field. Yikes.

    Fortunately for me, I began my events career surrounded by supportive and knowledgeable people who are eager to help me learn and see me grow as an event professional. I quickly began learning what it takes to be in the beginning stages as a successful event planner and run a successful events department.

    Having just passed my one-year mark not too long ago, I can look back and reflect on some of the key things I’ve learned in my first year as an event coordinator: 

    1. The importance of building meaningful relationships Not just relationships – meaningful relationships.

    The daily life of being an event planner requires communicating and working with a variety of different partners. So building relationships is, by nature, part of the job. However, a professional relationship only goes so far in the realm of customer satisfaction and retention. Build a meaningful relationship by taking the time get to know your clients on a personal level. Something as simple as chatting about a mutually enjoyed television show, restaurant, or recipe can really enhance your likeability factor. Or, you can take it a step further and add a personal touch, such as asking about a recent move, or following up on a family member’s health. This extra effort shows that you genuinely care about the relationship, outside of business transactions and conversations. The deeper the relationship, the more lasting and successful it will become.

    2. Finding the appropriate time to confront problems.

    This one was one of the first lessons I learned from my boss, and one of the best. The goal of event day is to make things look as flawless as possible, even when things go completely awry behind the scenes. If I am able to fix a problem quickly and efficiently enough that my client is not even aware that there was a problem in the first place, I consider it to be a success. Sometimes during an event however, emotions can get high, and the urge to confront the person responsible can be strong. But on event day, your top priority should be to fix the problem as quickly as possible, not play a game of pointing fingers. I have seen it happen live at events- it is not a pretty scene and can be quite embarrassing for both your organization and your client. Being able to take a step back and say “let’s fix this now and we can have a conversation later” is crucial in being able to maintain your professional image in front of a client and effectively execute your event. Problems can and should always be discussed and resolved at a later time.

    3. Respecting everyone – from bottom to top

    Prior to event day, my main focus is on working with my client to ensure they are happy and satisfied with the planning process. However when event day comes around, the people I rely on the most to have a successful event are our custodial staff, our maintenance staff, our catering staff - all who work hard behind the scenes to make sure the event looks its best and runs smoothly. Building a culture of respect amongst everyone, regardless of position or title, goes a long way on event day.  Whether an electrical circuit blows, someone spills their coffee in the middle of the lobby, the elevator breaks down - the inevitable hiccups on event day you rely on these individuals immensely. Build and maintain those meaningful relationships with all those you work with. If you treat people well, they will be much more motivated to resolve problems quickly and efficiently for you.


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