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Event leadership | 3 October 2022

Professional Development: 5 Upskilling Tips from Bizzabo’s Events Team

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
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Even the most talented and seasoned professionals should prioritize sharpening their event planning skills. 

Savvy event organizers are committed to professional development — even with their impossibly packed schedules. They consciously try to learn new things and keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry. 

If you want to improve your event planning skills, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about mission-critical skills event professionals need, as well as five tried-and-true tactics from Bizzabo’s event team that you can use to accelerate your professional development initiatives.

5 Key Skills Event Planners Need

The best event planners possess skills for planning unforgettable events, managing them seamlessly, and conducting effective post-mortems to find out what worked best and what could be improved upon for next time. Event organizers are also masters of many other skills. They are … 

  • Great communicators: Not only are event planners great at communicating with audiences, but they also keep their colleagues informed of all the latest developments impacting each event. They have great spoken and written communication skills and are attentive listeners.
  • Highly organized: Events have so many moving parts, so it’s no surprise that the top event planners are highly organized individuals. In addition to expertly managing timelines, budgets, and resources, they can keep all necessary documentation and contact information in one place throughout the event.
  • Excellent problem-solvers: It’s only a matter of time before something unforeseen changes an event’s trajectory. When this happens, the most talented event planners can rapidly adapt thanks to robust problem-solving skills. By baking event contingency planning into the foundation of their event strategies, these folks can roll with the punches and ensure a great event experience in any circumstance.
  • Creative and flexible: To put on game-changing events, professionals need to be able to think outside the box and plan experiences that are truly unique. The more creativity an event planner possesses, the easier it will be to create authentic experiences that stand out from other events.
  • Master multitaskers: The most adept event planners can juggle many responsibilities, including selling tickets, advertising the event, booking speakers and sponsors, finding a venue, and handling logistics, among countless other tasks. For this reason, being able to multitask is a prerequisite to finding success as an event professional.

Although these skills are all foundational, this list is not exhaustive. To stay effective and continually grow their skillset, today’s leading event professionals are also committed to professional development.

5 Tips for Upskilling and Professional Development for Event Organizers

If you want to prioritize professional development for your events team — or simply for yourself — here are five things to keep in mind.

1. Commit To Continuous Education

If your goal is to grow as an event professional, you need to change your mindset and embrace a commitment to continuous education. Find relevant event newsletters to sign up for (e.g., PCMA newsletter) and websites to start your day with. Here are some to get you started: 

2. Be Proactive and Connect With Industry Peers

Want to reach your full potential as an event professional? It’s unlikely that someone will help you unprompted. Take a proactive approach and directly engage other folks in the industry. Not sure who to follow? Check out the industry’s movers and shakers on “The Top 55 Event Experience Leaders of 2022” list. 

You should also schedule one-on-one meetings with senior and junior colleagues in the events industry to pick each others’ brains and talk about trending topics and challenges. 

“Even during your busiest event seasons, it’s important to connect with peers,” said Lauren Grady, Director of Bizzabo’s Global Event Center of Excellence. “That’s actually the most important time to do it because your peers understand and empathize with your challenges and can provide helpful tips and recommendations when you need them most.” 

She added: “It’s important to take initiative and reach out to event professionals you admire for casual 1:1 calls. This is typically how you hear about and are invited to more of the grassroots, invite-only groups.”

photo of woman having a zoom call with a man

Don’t forget to look outside the events industry, too. You can take inspiration from any number of industries! Listen to sales and marketing podcasts and regularly explore content from top brands like Hubspot

Lastly, thoroughly review top-tier analyst data and reports to stay on top of industry trends and potential challenges coming your way. 

3. Prioritize Your Personal Brand

You are much more than your 9-to-5 job. Your growth must be a priority. Think of it as what Dave Gerhardt calls “the company of you.” 

Carve out time on your calendar — at least one hour — each week and devote it to growth initiatives. In addition to hard skill training (e.g., learning about new features of your event software), you should also prioritize soft skill training (e.g., management and communication skills). We recommend exploring sites like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and HubSpot Academy

Also, write down your thoughts, reflections, and experiences after attending an event and refer back to them as time progresses. Remember that you will add more value to your company as you develop additional skills. It’s a win-win for both parties.

4. Get Relevant Event Planning Certifications

Look into certifications that are valued and recommended as part of specific job roles, such as becoming a certified meetings professional (CMP), certified meeting management (CMM) professional, and digital event strategist (DES). You’ll also want to pursue specific certifications to help you plan virtual and hybrid events. 

Here are two articles chock full of the kinds of certifications and certificates you’ll want to pursue:

5. Join Events Industry Networking Groups

In addition to certifications, you should join networking groups and exclusive councils catering to event professionals. 

“Beyond getting certified, joining networking communities and events and exclusive councils is very important,” Grady said.

For example, The Vendry has a curated networking group called Circles, which you must apply to join. If accepted, you get invited to an exclusive Slack channel. Similarly, the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) is a member-only association that allows members to post questions to other event professionals in a virtual forum.

“You can also apply to be on various planning boards for their annual CEMA Summit to contribute to the event and network further with senior event marketers,” Grady said. 

No matter how busy you are, it’s vital to carve out some time to connect with peers. When you’re in a pinch, other professionals will understand what you’re dealing with, empathize with your challenges, and share helpful tips and recommendations when you need them most.

It’s Time To Develop New Event Planning Skills

Congratulations! You’ve made it this far, so we know you’re interested in learning everything you can to reach your full potential as an event professional. Check out our resource center for the kits, templates, guides, and other tools you need to become the best event professional you can be. Here are a few resources to wet your whistle and level up your event planning skills: