Every company has countless moving parts, from development to production to marketing. Part of a company’s success depends on how well it manages to sell its image to the world and raise awareness about its products or services, news, and developments among key stakeholders and the public alike.
One way to accomplish this is through company events—fundraisers, galas, milestone celebrations, etc. These can be an opportunity for the public to find out more about the company, a chance to attract new audiences and generally put the company and its doings in the limelight.
But planning successful events isn’t easy and it’s certainly not something that should be assigned to someone within the company who already has a full plate. Having an event planning professional in-house can be a big advantage and a cost-effective way to maximize the impact of your company’s events.
Here are some key skills to look for in the perfect event planner:
Organization: An event planner is like a juggler. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning an event and each one moves independently from the others. Losing track of one could mean the difference between a successful event and a public relations disaster. Your event manager must be supremely organized.
Time Management: Together with organization, they also need good time management skills. An event planner is responsible for not only his/her schedule but also for those of all the other players that are part of the event—the people who handle the catering; the tables, linens, and centerpieces; the audiovisual components, etc. Not only that, the event planner is also responsible for the schedule of company members who are participating in the event, such as VIPs, speakers, etc. Remember, planning events requires a lot of scheduling and rescheduling so look for someone who can run a tight calendar.
People Skills: Event planning is all about working with people—a lot of the time while under stress. A successful professional must keep a level head when dealing with people in coordinating an event, especially since smooth working relationships are necessary to ensure that an event goes well. Look for someone who knows how to deal with people well, especially in those times when everything is coming down to the wire.
Resourcefulness: There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a specific aspect of an event so carefully and for so long, and then when the moment comes it simply doesn’t work. Being flexible and resourceful is of the utmost importance when planning an event. You never know what might change at the last minute. Having someone who is prepared with a Plan B (or C, or D, or E!) during the event can make all the difference in pulling it off.
Communication Skills: Along with coordinating so many moving parts comes a need to make instructions simple and understandable. During the planning process and especially during the event, it’s important that everyone is on the same page and it’s the event planner’s job to make sure that’s always the case. A successful event planner must possess excellent communications skills and be able to change tactics if needed to get a point across effectively and quickly.
Attention to Detail: What truly sets a great event apart are the details. Most event planners know how to handle the big aspects of an event, but a great planner also knows how to focus on the details. These are the things that people leave remembering, and an event intended to raise awareness about your company can accomplish its goal if guests are left with a memorable impression. The perfect details can help you do that.
Passion: Finally, the perfect event planner is passionate about his/her work. Planning an event is hard work and passion is the key quality needed to help that hard work pay off.
Look for clues in candidates’ resumes for these skills and ask relevant questions during the interview, such as what specific methods the candidate uses to keep track of things when planning an event, examples of when something didn’t go as planned and how he/she reacted, and strategies for keeping a timeline of the planning process.
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Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience.
The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter.
She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS.
Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.
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