If you're the premier party-giver in your crowd, then you can have a ball as an event planner. You'll work for private and corporate clients, creating, planning and organizing everything from bar mitzvahs to new-product unveilings, company picnics to murder mystery dinners, sales meetings to Valentine's balls. You'll do it all, from designing the theme to sending invitations to arranging the site, the entertainment and the caterer. And you'll negotiate with vendors and suppliers to make sure your client gets the most for his money. Event planning is a field with room for growth. While it used to be that a company could impress clients or sales teams with a tray of donuts or cold cuts and a slide show, in today's sophisticated world it takes a splashy event to do the trick. And on the personal front, few people today have the time--or the energy--to plan and organize anything. The advantages to the event-planning business are that it's creative, challenging, and if you specialize in corporate events, you'll probably have your weekends free for yourself. If you're a people person, what could be better? As an event planner, you must be organized and detail-oriented to a fault. You've got to have a major creative streak to come up with new ideas and the planning skills to be able to implement them. And you'll need to be a people person, capable of dealing with everybody from temperamental or flighty entertainers to the stodgy company president.
Your clients can be individuals, companies, or groups like charities, associations and organizations. Place ads in your local Yellow Pages and newspapers. Establish relationships with local event-oriented vendors: florists, photographers, sound-system rental companies, videographers, caterers, hotels and country clubs, and musicians. Leave your brochures with them and ask for referrals. And don't forget advertising agencies and public relations firms. Plan a small event for free for a local charity in exchange for free publicity. If you've got the inside scoop on a corporate event in your area--an up-and-coming grand opening, sales meeting or product unveiling--send a sales letter and your brochure, then follow up with a phone call.
To get up and running you'll need a computer with the usual office software, a laser printer, a fax machine and desktop publishing software for developing corporate proposals. And don't forget a phone, a calendar and a planning book.