faq

basics

how do I get started?

Bookmark this website.  Send a link to your workgroup members.

Get a slim three ring binder.  Fill it with dividers marked “1” through “10”.  Mark your labels as follows (1) event elements (2) administration (3) design (4) marketing (5) operations (6) risk (7) calendar (8) leave this blank for now (9) leave this blank for now (10) junk drawer.

Surf this website under the Tools, Events, Community, Career dropdowns.  Get familiar with the current offering of resources.  Start a few subscriptions to free or low cost services. Keep records in your binder. Everybody has different needs.

Step four, we’d recommend you become a Monthly subscriber ($9/month) and register for your first MEMU workshop (either live or webinar).

After you’ve attended your first MEMU workshop or webinar then check in with us for more onboarding tips.

what’s an “occasional planner”?

Anybody who temporarily occupies the role of meeting manager, event planner, festival organizer, or tradeshow promoter.

Key distinction here is the word “occasional”. As in part-time. Every so often. Once or twice a year maybe.

You are a full time or part time paid employee and your official job title says something other than “event manager” yet you’ve been tasked with planning an important meeting, conference or symposium.  You are a volunteer committee member and thus are busy simultaneously performing other professional duties or life responsibilities.  You serve on a board of directors and find yourself in a subcommittee role that involves meeting planning and production.

So however you ended up here, as the saying goes “it’s not your day job” but for now it sure seems like it.

 

why did OP get started?

As the saying goes, “this isn’t my first rodeo” … well what if it is?

For over two years we asked regular folks as well as rookie event planners about some specifics. Here’s what we heard.

We like what we’ve been asked to do and want to do a good job. If it goes well we may want to try and make a part-time job out of this. We are trying to accomplish goals and objectives despite today’s headwinds and roadblocks. We may or may not know (and for now maybe don’t have time) to learn meeting industry acronyms, terminology, insider language and intricate protocols. We want you to share and collaborate at our level. We like nonjudgmental help and advice. We need custom, not cookie cutter, solutions.

So in a well stocked marketplace, Occasional Planner was created to fill this specific “below radar” void. Standing at the front door of the industry and encouraging new participants to enter, we are here to help you gain confidence and navigate.

 

career

how do I get started or move into this industry?

Ask a dozen people and you’ll get a dozen answers.

Here’s our advice.

Take stock of where you are now and what you have. Start with a skills inventory, values audit and updated resume. What are your unique and valuable skills? What are the top values you hold most strongly and how often do they show up in your life?  As for experiences, chances are you’ve already done some event planning or coordination of some sort.  Assess your own duties and responsibilities from the past. Write everything down you can think of.

After a good couple of meetings with a career coach, conduct at least five informational interviews with meeting managers or event planners.  Look for wise, smart, strategic thinkers — not just the ones that are easy to get time with. Might be hard to nail down these five conversations but make sure they are detailed and at least an hour long.  Go in with pre-set questions.

Next up is to gain relevant hands-on experience with your new mindset.  Volunteer, paid, it doesn’t matter. Just start and do not waste time … just jump into the pool.  Events happen every week and everybody welcomes a volunteer. Create your own events and start to produce them if you have to. The more you’ve done, the more you know. Get experience regardless of where and how. Parallel to this is formal training or classes.  Be methodical about it and committed.  Have due dates and target dates. There is no substitute for hard work and long hours. Check in with your mentors.

For now, the last element to mention is your business and financial acumen. To be good at events you must be a good “doer” but to run a successful event or meeting management business you must be a good manager of the process as well.  Be honest and assess your awareness of and abilities in administration, finance, branding, positioning, pricing, and human resources. Not a deal breaker but the point is know from where you are starting and go out and get (a) training so that you can handle this yourself (b) employees or partners or tradeouts or subcontractors who can handle this for you.

With that said, get on the dance floor! Be ready for anything and everything to be thrown at you, but knowing your own determination and consistency and flair you can offer the extraordinary.

improvements

i have recommendations or suggestions

Tell us how we can improve MEMU (Meeting & Event Management University) or the offerings of Occasional Planner.  Suggest links or changes, ways to collaborate or expand to the power of meetings. We are a work in progress and a student of innovation and creativity.

By 2014 we seek to become one of the web’s most comprehensive sites for part time meeting managers and event planners.

we might want to be a sponsor or advertiser

As this community of meeting managers and event planners continues to grow the chance to promote your product service or brand becomes a solid proposition.

Sponsor and advertiser packages are available with six or twelve month terms.

Call or write or email us and we can send you our sponsor kit.

MEMU

can I be selected as a MEMU speaker or trainer?

Possibly.  We recommend you become a Monthly member of Occasional Planner to get familiar with MEMU curriculum followed by submission of a CV or resume.  As we grow we’ll need good qualified instructors.

how long does it take to earn a MEMU Certificate of Completion?

Upon completion of at least 12 courses and workshops (minimum of 24 hours classtime, includes webinars) a MEMU Certificate of Completion will be awarded.

A motivated individual could earn a certificate in about 6 months but for most folks it will take about a year.

once I’ve earned a MEMU Certificate of Completion how do you promote me?

Individuals who earn a MEMU Certificate of Completion receive several complimentary promotional items including (a) personalized letters of recommendation for employers or clients (b) local and national press releases (c) mentions and posts across social media including LinkedIn and Twitter (d) career coaching.

what’s MEMU?

Meeting & Event Management University, or MEMU for short, is a Certificate of Competion program offered live and online.  MEMU is presented by Occasional Planner.

tools

can I recommend a link resource or tool for posting?

Absolutely. Our criteria for posting links, resources or tools include (a) innovative and creative (b) easy to setup and use (c) free or low cost for the value provided (d) customer support after purchase must be hassle free (e) little or no “upselling” once you’ve purchased or signed up (f) you’ve personally used this tool or resource.

If you have or know of something that we’ve overlooked, help us “pay it foward” and send it over.

how does a link tool or resource become a “top pick”?

We finally have a few favorites that come strongly recommended.  In some cases folks didn’t like what they were using and came across a better solution. We found out what those “better solution” tools are and eager to share them as a “top pick”. They are worth a sincere look.

user plans & prices

can I get help with business planning and situation strategies?

Absolutely.

We are eager to hear your story.  Our team has been planning meeting and events since 1982 and over the years we’ve gathered a few reference points that we now can draw on to help you out.

Not knowing all the particulars of your unique situation, we encourage you to contact Occasional Planner for a brief no-cost assessment and conversation about where you are and where you want to go. If our team of veteran planners and consultants cannot help you directly we’ll offer tips and advice regarding who to contact and where to look.

how can our event committee get the most out of OP?

Join as a member (Program Committee) and schedule a conference call with a member of our Occasional Planner team.   During this initial call we’ll establish what is needed, what resources are available, how much time is available to accomplish the mission, goals and objectives, and then finally what the legacy or outcome of the prescribed meeting, event, or festival.

how do I keep my startup event planner business afloat?

How do I get more clients, where do I spend my time, how do I go about focusing my attention, choosing the right approach to contracts and rates and pricing, and a list of additional topics proves to be challenging to individuals and small companies that plan, design, execute and manage events.

Not knowing all the particulars of your unique situation, we encourage you to contact Occasional Planner for a brief no-cost assessment and conversation about where you are and where you want to go.

If our team of veteran planners and consultants cannot help you directly we’ll offer tips and advice regarding who to contact and where to look.

where do I go to uncover leads and qualified prospects?

Short answer, everywhere.

Whew.

Long answer, everywhere but it’s not easy. It takes time.  For sustainable success year after year you have to have a system and be committed to success.

Not sugar coating it, but we’re also dedicated to being honest and sincere with you.

It is done everyday and you can do it as well. To move a lead to a prospect stage to a proposal and then negotiation and acceptance of terms can take as little as thirty minutes but as long as six years.

Either way our team has been there.  We know where to look. Perhaps that why we’re so realistic (and optimistic).

Subscribe to Occasional Planner as a Monthly subscriber or as a Planning Committee.  Once onboard you’ll have exclusive access to our PlannerSwap platform as well as our bi-monthly webinars (1.5 hours each, 3.0 total per month) where we’ll discuss various topics including leads, qualified prospects, and how to uncover and close new business.