How to get started in the Events & Meetings Business with Nancy Spooner.
Meeting planners, meeting organizers are always looking for new recruits. Make sure you are ready! Getting started in the events and meetings business is an often asked question. Mike McAllen and Nancy Spooner discuss ways/how people interested in becoming meeting planners, meeting organizers or meeting production specialists. Some simple ways to look at entering this exciting field full which brings many different experiences and travel.
Mike: Nancy is from Tempo Live Events down in Southern California and she has been nice enough to come back and talk to me about how to get started in the event biz.
Nancy: I am.
Mike: So how do you get started in the event biz?
Nancy: You know what? I think it’s just being aggressive and wanting to work in our business. I firmly believe that if you want to do something bad enough, you can totally do it. If you have the right attitude and the right work ethic because our company hires contractors all the time. People find my website online and they send me resumes; hey I want to work for you, hey are you hiring.
That’s a great way. Somebody has done their research, they’ve gone online and they’ve looked for event production companies. They found me then they send me a resume. That’s step one. But sometimes I’ll get a resume from somebody and it’ll say “Hi I want to know if you’re hiring” and they just send me this really broad resume.
I’ve actually gone back to them and said, a) let’s fix the typos in your resume, b) why don’t you send me a cover letter and tell me a little bit about yourself and then c) maybe we’ll set up a phone call. You know and I try to coach them even if I don’t want to hire them. I just want them to work in this business.
Then the next thing I usually tell them is, you know what you need to do? You need to volunteer. You got to volunteer in a show. That’s how I got started in the business and that’s how I know so many people get started. Volunteer in somebody’s show somebody’s event, look around see what all the different people are doing on the show and figure out where you want to go and what you want to do.
And if you work hard enough and you impress the people that you’re volunteering for, odds are the next gig they’re going to look around and go, hey remember Sally she was such a hard worker? She handled the volunteers really well she was like the lead so let’s hire her to handle the volunteers. Or she handled food and beverage, put her back in that corner and see if she likes it again. So they need volunteering —
Mike: I think you’re right. I know that when I was working at my Invision Communications, I started an intern program and I just put it up onto Craigslist because actually I just needed help with what I was doing instead of going through the whole rigmarole of getting it done. Hiring another person and stuff, as we’ve talked about before in the past, shows getting an intern — if you can get an internship somewhere, go do it. You don’t get paid again volunteer.
I’ve done it here at Grass Shack and it’s really fun too. The relationships that you make when you do intern, when you’re doing it for free, you’re also helping somebody else out which is great. Then they remember that, just as you said. It’s nice to build bridges. People talk about burning bridges but build bridges like crazy.
Nancy: Yup and you know how you can burn them? I’m just going to give you a little find out. When you said I’ll volunteer in that show for you, don’t come back at me and ask me if you can get paid just because you did a little more than you thought you were going to have to do.
Nancy: That’s happened and I’m like “Ooh really?” I don’t use and abuse my volunteers. I’m letting you have the opportunity to work in our industry and if you like it and I like you and I see that passion, you’d better believe I’m taking you the next show and you’re going to get paid for it.
Nancy: I’ve had volunteers that go, “Hey can I get paid because I didn’t know I was going to be doing A?” and I’m like you should be happy to be doing A because now somebody else get to look at your skills …
Mike: Right. Another thing about getting into the business is nowadays, I know you and I have talked on what we did when I interviewed you for the Podcast we both shared how we’ve gotten into the business, and that nowadays there’re a lot of really good programs to go through to learn event planning or anything. Any of these kinds of events, media-related video-related that you can go to school a lot like MPI. Those associations also have a lot of very cool programs that you can get involved in to get certified in that sort of thing.
Nancy: Yeah and the school is also great with the network. I used to teach in junior college and they have these classes at junior colleges now. A lot of my students were a) wanting to be wedding planners b) the corporation or the company would find them there because they’re going to do their corporate Christmas party or somebody was planning their family reunion or whatever.
When you’re in that classroom and you’re meeting with your professor or your teacher or your fellow students, you’re all in the same industry. You all want to be in the same industry or what have you. That’s the relationship you’re going to build first and foremost when you meet these people.
When they start getting work, they’re going to pull you with them. At least that’s how it worked for me when I went to TV and Film School. My first job out of college came from a friend who was on my film student body and we did our projects together. She got on a job first and I was one of the first phone calls she made.
Nancy: I worked really well so I think school was actually networking.
Mike: Very cool. Yeah I agree.
Nancy: And then that brings me to networking. Networking is so much fun these days and it’s really come around with bad economy. Networking has turned into something that we all have to do to survive but it’s actually been a really fun thing for me. I think just maybe meet for coffee, if you send me your resume and we seem to have a good connection on the phone, I will be the first one to go, “Let’s go for coffee.”
And that coffee can be me introducing you to five more people that I think you need to meet, who will help you get into this business. Show up at meet-up groups, oh my gosh there are so many meet-up groups meetup.com and you can find organizations and gathering of people that want to do what you do or, sorry you want to do what they do.
Mike: Right and also all the groups are linked in on Facebook and Twitter. You know they have the eventprofs group on Twitter that you can go twice a week and start — if you don’t want to leave your house —
Mike: You can sit at your computer and —
Nancy: Oh my gosh and LinkedIn, all of the groups on LinkedIn. I was talking to somebody and she wanted to freelance and she has a resume and I go, “You’re on LinkedIn?” “No, I don’t understand that …” and I was like “Oh my gosh, girl!! Get on LinkedIn get the resume up there and look at all the groups that I’m in” for example. You just see everybody is posting that are in your group, whether it’s the sports and entertainment industry or your eventprofs group on LinkedIn or Social Butterflies? That’s our butterfly group.
Mike: There’re so many different ones …
Mike: There’s the EventPeeps —
Nancy: Uh huh.
Mike: There’s a whole bunch of them.
Nancy: Stage Managers, then they narrow them down because now I’m in the Stage Managers group as well.
Mike: Ahh. That’s another thing that is even for you and I or kind of established in the business. It’s also very good to go in there and that’s great place to find other people so it works bothways.
Nancy: Yes. Some of Tempo [00:07:14][Inaudible] best staffing moments have come from LinkedIn. I love it!! I’ll search “event producer, Dallas Texas” and I get the list of event producers in Dallas, Texas. I see one of them is two links away she knows Mike, I call Mike, “Mike, what do you know about Susie?” “Oh, she’s awesome you’ll love her.” Susie got the job. It’s happened way more than once in my world.
Mike: Awesome. Okay so I think we’ve really done a good job.
Nancy: Yeah, hopefully somebody will listen and get in our business.
Mike: All right Nancy, thank you once again. If you want to get a hold of Nancy, you can get a hold of her at tempoliveevents.com and of course you ca go to the Meetings Podcast page and get all the links to Nancy or myself and ask some questions if you want to. So thanks Nancy!!
Nancy: Thank you!!
Mike: And I will talk to you next time.
Nancy: See you.
Mike: Okay bye-bye.
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Mike: This is Mike McAllen with Meetings Podcast. I wanted to thank you again for tuning in and we’re very excited because today’s Podcast is brought to you by Audible.com. You can get a free audio book download at www.audiblepodcast.com/meetingspodcast. There’re over 7500 titles to choose from and you can listen to them on your iPod or your MP3 player and we’re very excited. So check that out and I think you’ll really enjoy audible, I know I do.
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