The First Step In Event Planning: Get Organized

There are all kinds of events out there — social, weddings, corporate, charitable, etc.  So the first thing you need to do when you know you’re having an event is to organize it properly.  While that sounds obvious, you’d be surprised how fast things can get complicated, especially if you’re not as familiar with the field.

Where to start?  Budget!  Create a realistic budget — not the budget you wish you had or a budget you think you can get together.  You need to make sure you can afford all the items & services you may need. This will then help you prioritize.  When prioritizing, come up with a solitary goal for the event.  If it’s a wedding your goal may be to create an enjoyable experience for your guests.  If it’s a charity event, you obviously are looking to raise money but what do you want your guests to leave saying about you?  Maybe you can encourage people to volunteer or donate resources in addition to money.  If you have a central focus this will keep you in line when you’re being talked to by a million people who tell you that every event has to have [expensive item/service here]!  Money isn’t everything but it is important.  If you can afford to splurge, do it!  But you shouldn’t be taking out a loan or risk being fired if you work for a company because of your extravagant tastes.

Once you’ve established a budget, a focus and prioritized items, keep your information organized.  When dealing with companies, be sure to know the date of your event and have details at hand.  While most companies do know their clients they may also deal with a lot of them.  Plus you may not get the same person on the phone every time.  While it’s nice to be remembered, don’t assume people are going to know all of your information for you.

When getting information from the company write down as much as you can.  For example, if you’re calling around for a florist don’t note just which ones you’ve called but list who you spoke to.  ALWAYS ask them how to spell names or items if you aren’t sure and include what time you called.  Even add details like “friendly staff” or “can deliver quickly.”  This type of information will help you stay focused and ultimately make the right decision.  It’s also good to do in case you run into any trouble –now you’ve got all the information in front of you so that hopefully the person you’re dealing with will be able to help you correct any issues.

Once you’ve selected vendors and gotten details together be sure to follow up.  One new employee at a company can easily make a mistake that may translate into your message getting displaced or information not being received.  While this isn’t something to freak out about all the time it is something to be aware of.  If you don’t hear back within 24 hrs, call back.  Whenever I deal with clients I will leave a voice message and immediately email them.  Different forms of communication work better for different people.  I’ve found that the busy executive tends to prefer email because you can quickly check your iphone or blackberry during a meeting, in an airport, or while waiting for a client but you can’t necessarily take a phone call.  But that doesn’t mean you should never pick up the phone!  Attempt multiple means of communication, particularly if you need a speedy answer, but don’t overwhelm people.  10 emails in a day can quickly make you “that” guy or girl.  Always be polite and realistic when being thorough.

…And since we’re kinda on the subject.  When contacting someone, ask a lot of questions if you need to but try to knock it out in one shot.  Calling back once, even twice is okay but once I’ve had someone call me 3 times in a row when they could have just taken the time to assess what they needed and covered it in 1, it starts to become annoying.  Most people will be polite, but be aware that you are taking up that person’s time.  Whether it’s the client or the employee you have to remain aware and be respectful.  Equally, you also deserve time.  If you’re a customer, the company providing services should take time to politely answer your questions.  If you’re an employee, your customer will hopefully answer the questions you need to do your job correctly.  There’s always a balance in business and for heaven’s sake make mother proud and be nice about it!

Have a question about Chicago or Event Planning?
Email: thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com


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