Running a business is hard work – there are few classes and even fewer ways to find proven business lessons. It’s a sad state of affairs, but many independent event planners (and business owners in general) just end up flying by the seat of their pants and learning things the hard way. And the only real benefit we get from learning things this way is when we get to share them with all the people who are hustling just as hard as us.
That’s why when I shared the questions of “What’s one business lesson you learned the hard way?” in our Event Hustlers Facebook group, we had many great answers. In fact – the content was so great, I thought we should share it here on the blog to let people see what kind of insights we’ve gleaned through many years of running our businesses.
Here’s what I and several other group members had to say:
“Learn to trust my intuition. I often listen to the advice and thoughts of other people who do not know my business or industry as well as I do and missed out on many opportunities because I didn’t trust my gut.
Another thing I learned the HARD way was that partnerships are great, but only if you set the right relationship up front. Do you really compliment each other? Do you both bring something valuable to the table? What are all the things that could go wrong? And what could go right? And get it ALL on paper!!!”
Liz King Caruso, Liz King Events
“I’ve learned the hard way that a glowing resume and outstanding credentials on paper doesn’t always make someone an excellent choice or a good fit. I’ve also learned it is imperative to trust your gut and cut ties early to avoid more complicated problems down the road.”
“Don’t just “handle” additional requests as a courtesy, charge for them! I’m happy to do that for you, but it’s outside our current scope of work. I can push that to the end of our work and if I have time I’ll work on that but if you need me to get off my current track/path to do that, then we need to add some additional (time, budget, etc). This is the equivalent to shoplifting of (your) time!”
“Get it ALL in writing, always. Always NEGOTIATE boilerplate. Don’t just sign contracts, get YOUR terms when you can and have those written in too.
This especially goes for industry “non-compete” clauses. Negotiate the scope, narrow it so it is fair to both sides.”
“One should confirm all conversational agreements in a
Founding Partner JBVproductionweb
“Ask for what you’re worth. And please stop cutting down the price in hopes they’ll hire you for being such a bargain. You’re not a bargain. You’re a god damn beacon of hope, a firefighter, a dream maker, a master magician, a therapist and all the other things that come from having a client. GET PAID for it. You’re doing the job of several people. Do not compromise your worth. People will pay you what you’re worth. The best clients won’t blink
“There is always someone charging more than you. I struggled to price myself appropriately for 4 years and in the last 6 months, I doubled our minimum rates, kept all of our best clients, said goodbye to all of our tough clients, doubled our service-based revenue, and gave myself a week off per quarter (because we didn’t have to do as much hustling since our revenue was higher per quarter). I wish I would have started off with incremental price increases with each new client, instead of a huge rate hike all at once, because it would have been way less scary to do it incrementally (and I probably would have made more overall instead of struggling for 4 years).
“Saying ‘No’ to a client request that does not fit the business strategy, while difficult
Co-Founder, ATIV Software – Medical and Scientific Meeting Apps
Careers are oftentimes forged when people meet the right folks at the right times. This is especially true in the technology industry. All of you who are a part of this industry know very well how important it is to stay well connected and interact with your peers. Of course, tech events are where you get to meet your colleagues and get an insight into what they are currently working on. These conferences can be really valuable when it comes to your potential career opportunities. So, you have to know how to prepare yourself well and take the best out of these events.
Why do you want to go?
You have to ask yourself this question before you go anywhere. Take a good look at the event’s keynotes and workshops and compare that to your priorities in the office and your personal ambitions. How do you benefit from that event? Is it for your personal gain or for work? Consult your boss and colleagues who aren’t attending the event and figure out why they decided not to come and whether there are some particular breakouts that would benefit you and your team at work. These all serve to provide you with the reasons of why you should or should not attend.
Look at the list of attendees
The value of an event also lies in the list of people who will be there. That’s why you should look at the list of attendees and see if you can spot someone who garners interests or someone who you already know. You will most likely see some interesting names there so make sure to do some networking while you’re there. Also, you should solidify existing professional relationships. Don’t just rush to meet the new contacts, devote some time to your existing ones. If you can’t find the list of attendees, reach out to your colleagues on LinkedIn and similar social media platforms. Enquire there about the event and you’ll probably find people who are attending.
Download available software for the event
Oftentimes tech events have their own apps for smart devices that will help you navigate easier through the event space, find your favorite speakers and other stuff that could be of use to you. On top of that, many apps of this kind have a schedule of the event on them. You can take advantage of that by creating your own schedule with the help of that one. Maybe there are some segments of the event or conference you’d like to avoid. Your time is precious and you probably can’t waste it on things that are not interesting to you. That’s why you should check out whether there is some event software available to attendees. If there is, it’s there probably to help you get the most out of the event.
You are there to learn, not to compete
It’s fine to feel competitive when you’re in the room full of people from other companies that are probably the rivals of your company. However, you should never allow that feeling to overwhelm you during the event. Look, no one at the conference would be so friendly in a normal, everyday environment. However, at the venue, you all have to mingle and be friendly. Why? You are there to learn and take something valuable out of each other. Even though it shouldn’t be strictly business. Well, it kind of is. It is a professional event, after all. Right?
Do not forget to connect!
Say that you’ve just met a colleague at the event. You’ve exchanged a few words, you’ve realized that the person you talked to can be potentially valuable. What is the worst thing that you can do after meeting such a person? The worst thing would be to do nothing. You can’t afford to forget valuable contacts. That’s why you should make it a habit to connect to these individuals as soon as you’re done talking to them. Find the person on LinkedIn or Twitter, trade contact info, do everything to remain in contact. You never know how valuable someone can be.
Are you ready for the event now? Well, there are some things beside the ones mentioned here but these are your top priority. Well, they should be your top priority. Prepare well, do the research and go. Remember, contacts are valuable, the event is there for you to learn something that can benefit both you personally and your company.
Corporate events include conferences, client events, internal meetings, parties, and team building events. It can be a one-day event or a week-long conference. However, making the event interesting is not an easy task.
With big cities such as London, New York, and others hosting corporate events every month, event planners need to find new approaches to ensure attendees are engaged and entertained. Traditional methods cannot bring back life to corporate conferences.
Since it is easier for someone to stick to old approaches than inventing new ideas, engaging a professional planner might be a good action. Professional planners know the best strategies needed to make the event engaging. If you are looking for ways to make your event a success, here are a few ways you can use.
How to bring life back to corporate conferences
1. Invest in theme and presentations
One way to bring life back to a corporate event is inventing in the theme, branding, graphics, and presentations. Whether it is a smaller meeting, something smaller, or a big event, these are the things that will make your corporate event interesting.
A good theme will keep your attendees connected and happy. So, the overall theme needs to be dynamic and unique. It should describe your event and be attractive to keep your guests interested in the occasion. Also, the presentations need to be engaging, entertaining and based on the event. Besides, ensure there a proper arrangement of the tables, chairs, podium, speakers, and other elements of the event.
2. Have more entertainment and less talk
Finding speakers for your corporate event is a nice idea. However, the speaker should not take a lot of your time. Fortunately, there are many ways you can send messages to your guests without delivering long speeches. For example, you can use social media, videos and other techniques to deliver messages to your attendees.
All your attendees need to feel engaged from the beginning to the end. Therefore, look for new ways that your audience can participate in. For instance, you can provide a unique experience through games, food tasting, or have a unique strategy where people can be able to share their experiences.
3. Use technology
Technology has changed the way we plan and attend major events. Today, brochures, mailing lists, and other traditional strategies are no longer in use. Uses of the internet and other developments have dominated to bring life to corporate events. For example, Twitter, apps, Facebook, and other social media platforms allow event organisers to promote specific events to a particular group of people.
The technology has also brought VR and AR. Both VR and AR leave your attendees with smiles on their faces. It is a technology that can bring the guests together, start discussions, and make the event memorable. You can also use the VR experience to have a fun atmosphere at the event and get attendees to feel energized. Most conference organisers in London and other major cities are already using and reaping the benefits of the virtual world.
4. Have an activity-based event
Another way to bring life back to a corporate conference is having an activity-based event. This will add team spirit among the attendees and bring a social atmosphere. For instance, you have mini breakout-sessions and include games such as bowling, video games, and other indoor sports games.
You also need to have strategies to ensure every guest participates in the event. Help them feel welcome and connected. Keep in mind that your corporate conference will be successful if everyone feels engaged. Therefore, you need to make sure you are innovative enough to keep all attendees involved. In addition, you should appreciate your guests attention and ensure their time is not wasted.
Today, a corporate conference has to be interesting and engaging. If you do not craft appealing strategies, you will have a hard time enticing people to show up, or take anything away from the event. So, from the theme and presentations to the venue and activities, you need to be more than creative.
One simple way to make a conference interactive is to understand what your attendees expect to get from the event. Using technology is one of the best ways you can engage and bring life to your corporate event, while also standing out from the crowd! It is simple, affordable, entertaining, and very engaging.
Paul Campbell is the founder and directors of the Purple Patch Group, a business that started life as an event agency in London over ten years ago. Through years of live events experience on both sides of the fence, managing them, and sitting front row, Paul and fellow other director Holly created the Presentation Experts aswell. Through Purple Patch Group they develop corporate events and conferences for brands and companies who are looking for a reliable, but innovative event agency!
I had a great experience last week. I’ve written a TON of proposals as an event planner and while many of them have looked different, I’ve definitely taken what I’ve learned along the way and improved my overall proposal process dramatically.
Last week I wrote a proposal for a great client and sent her all the information I knew she would need to make a decision. But unlike some clients who just don’t get back to you or follow up weeks later to tell you that they’ve gone with someone else, this client responded with a list of questions that she had been using to evaluate all the different proposals she got to compare apples to apples. Some of what she asked had already been covered, but some of it had not been addressed in my proposal.
Now I understand that this is just one client’s perspective on what information they need to evaluate the perfect event planner, but I found the act of responding to these questions separate from the proposal to be really interesting and it reminded me that there are a few basic things that many event planners simply overlook in their proposals. It’s a lesson I learned for myself last week so I thought I would share some of the things I learned with you!
Ensure a certain level of understanding
Whenever we work with new clients, we try to educate them on the overall event planning process and ensure that they understand the role we will play in helping them create a strategic and goal-oriented event. But I think it’s easy to overlook how little a corporation or organization might know about the event planning process.
For example – maybe they assume that they will sell a certain number of tickets at a certain price point and that informs their budget. But most of them do not know to think about comps and discounts and affiliate codes and all the things that will be needed to fill an event. Once they calculate these additional discounts, their overall budget might end up being a lot less than what they imagined.
But if they don’t know to think about those things, they don’t really have a good idea of what their event scope will be. If we can educate our clients on some basic event planning strategies and show that we have a good working knowledge of throwing strategic events, we can showcase our expertise and also help them make more informed decisions on who they want to work with.
I know it’s always difficult when we’re writing a proposal to know who we are competing against. We don’t know who the other event planners are who are putting their hat in the ring or what their proposals look like. So I think a lot of us spend time talking about how we are differentiated as a company.
That is a great thing to share, but I don’t think enough of us talk about how we are differentiated based on the kind of events that we produce. Whether you’re a very strategic planner or great at reducing budgets or very interested in engagement – sharing your vision for an ideal event is a great way to help the client understand whether or not you will be a good fit for them. Painting this picture of what their event will look like and how that will set them apart from the other events like theirs is as important as talking about how your company is better than the others.
Sometimes, our clients ask us for things to include in our scope that we don’t necessarily feel comfortable with. And this is something that is a fair balance. Especially after watching the Hulu and Netflix documentaries on the Fyre Festival this weekend, I realize how easy it is for event planners to oversell their services in the hopes of getting the business and then assume they’ll “figure it out later“. But the truth is – there is some risk in that line of thinking and I think we need to be very cautious about how we go about listing our services when they are outside of our typical scope of work. Whether it’s a larger project than you’ve ever worked on before or simply something you know you’re not good at, we need to be very honest about where our skill set lies. That doesn’t mean you can never try something new, but
Proposals are so tricky so I’d love to hear what tips you have for writing strong proposals that win you the business. I am learning every day and will continue to share. I hope you will too!
So I’ve been on a kick talking about thought leadership lately, as you’ve probably noticed, but I truly believe this is a difference-maker in so many businesses. And yet – not many businesses even know what thought leadership is, let alone are focused on building it. I talked a few weeks ago in my blog about how you can be a thought leader, even when you don’t feel like an “expert“, but I think it’s also important to talk about why thought leadership and influence is really important.
When I talk about building your influence, it’s usually a very public thing that you’re doing – whether it’s sharing pictures, hosting Facebook live videos, or anything else on social, the goal of building your influence is to build an audience of people who find value in the expertise that you offer. And in order to build that audience, you have to be pretty public. I know that this is not a comfortable thought for most people, especially introverts like me, but it really doesn’t have to be all that scary. I’m not talking about becoming a celebrity – just sharing your journey and expertise with the people who care – which might be a very small, targeted audience.
But why does it matter? Here are a few things you really need to consider when it comes to building your thought leadership.
The most important thing you can build in any relationship is trust – especially when it comes to any relationship that involves buying and selling. Whether you are selling a service or a product, people have to trust you. This is all the more true for personal brands and smaller, independent companies. It’s great to be a good salesperson, but it’s even better if you can make a sale because the person trusts the quality of the service you provide. Incoming inquiries are always an easier sell then outgoing pushes.
Most of us get our traffic and sales from word-of-mouth. Too often – that makes us falsely believe that we don’t need to have an online presence because our best clients come from word-of-mouth. But what if you could expand the number of people talking about you 5X, 10X or even way more than that? Social media is like word of mouth on fire – the more you can share your journey online, the more people are exposed to your services. As you earn their trust, they become your best ambassadors for referring business, even if they are not the right person to buy from you now personally.
I know most people don’t think of technology as a relationship builder, but in a world that is so focused on automation and pipelines, a good old conversation goes a long way. Being able to communicate directly with your target audience is an important benefit that not every company harnesses. You can compete much more effectively with similar businesses, just by creating relationships with your target audience by building your social media. The key with influence is that people not only know about you, but they really trust and have a relationship with you. This is invaluable so you want to maximize this opportunity in a world where most people are trying to disconnect from their target customers so they can operate at a larger scale.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, I’d love to chat with you. Thought leadership is nothing new, but it is something that every business needs to embrace in an online/virtual way to really maximize the benefits. Join our new Event Hustler Community on Facebook to learn more from your event colleagues!