The Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Event Management at the University of Central Lancashire recently asked for my top ten hints and tips on professional business etiquette for budding Event Managers. I started thinking about my personal experience and the standards that are important to me and this provided inspiration for this blog post.
As an Event Manager it is vital to act professionally and ethically and to present a positive business image at all times. We work in a people-orientated industry. People buy from people and they want to work with those that they respect and have faith in. You are an ambassador for the company you work for and your conduct adds to your “brand.” Of course this post isn’t exclusive to the event industry – it will be useful to a broad spectrum of professions.
To be distinguished as a professional event manager and outclass the competition these are my personal top tips.
Good timekeeping is essential. Always be on time for meetings. It is unprofessional to be late and you do not want to keep people waiting. Should circumstances be beyond your control do of course have the courtesy to phone ahead and apologise.
Always arrive early on live event days – it is completely unacceptable to be even a minute late on the day of the event. Leave plenty of extra time in case of unexpected eventualities.
Good presentation and personal grooming is important. Your dress must be practical and comfortable as well as smart.
Make sure that you give a proper handshake.
Stay calm and unruffled under pressure – keep your head.
Good time management is an essential skill for every Event Manager.
It goes without saying that you must meet all deadlines – events will not wait! Work backwards from the event date and effectively map the key milestones and deadlines leading up to the date and stick to them.
The nature of running an event does mean that a lot can happen just before the event day – last minutes bookings, substitutions, last minute requests from speakers, etc. Be prepared for this. Expect to work late as necessary to get things done thoroughly.
Treat others with the respect you expect to be treated with yourself.
Have a positive, professional outlook.
Event Managers should be friendly and approachable and most importantly SMILE! This is a people business and you should be warm and welcoming.
Develop a professional way of answering the phone.
Know how to write professional letters, faxes and emails.
Respond to emails and voice messages promptly. However busy I am it is important to me to respond as quickly as possible to emails and any calls I have missed. I definitely aim to respond within 24 hours but generally reply much more speedily.
Always ensure introductions are made between speakers, performers, clients and staff. Be sure to use correct titles where appropriate (Dr, Professor, Sir) and full names. Try to give job titles, organisations and a hook to enable a conversation to begin naturally. This might be a shared interest, fact or point of view or some background information which will put them at ease with each other.
Don’t forget your manners. Common courtesy seems to be a dying art but costs nothing.
Always thank speakers, sponsors, staff and clients – anyone that has contributed to making the project a success or paid for your services.
Get everything in writing. This is particularly important when it comes to contracts, roles and responsibilities, deadlines, health and safety information, venue operations sheets and basically anything important!
Ask for constructive feedback. Everyone likes positive feedback and affirmation but negative feedback can be extremely valuable if you listen, understand and improve as a result of it.
The customer is always right. Unfortunately this may not always be true however if you receive a complaint of any description you must deal with it graciously. Don’t interrupt (even with a solution) before they tell their story. Then handle the complaint in a calm, rational way.
Act discreetly and confidentially. Behind the scenes at an event you may find out some top secret information – perhaps that world class “superstar” is actually extremely dislikeable or perhaps you witness someone doing something they shouldn’t. This is however your secret – it is not your place to sell the story to the media or gossip on social media channels! (or at least not if you want to continue to work in the events industry)
Find solutions for your clients, even if one isn’t obvious straight away. Your clients pay you to make things work and “where there is a will there is a way!”
Offer your professional advice to ensure a successful event will be executed. Clients often presume how things will be done but frankly this isn’t always the best way to do things. It is your job to explain your vision and why your way is better, quicker, more efficient and will get results. You have learnt from experience so let your clients benefit from your learning and expertise too – that is what they are paying you for after all.
Don’t bad mouth competitors. Although the behaviour and way of working of your competitors can repeatedly baffle you it is not professional or acceptable to point this out publically. If you cannot say something nice it is best just to say nothing at all in my opinion.
Be careful how you present yourself/your organisation on social media channels – never swear, bad mouth, don’t blatantly self-promote, consider that current or future clients/employers/employees could be reading your updates. If necessary separate your business and personal profiles.
Separate business and pleasure. As a perk of the job you will no doubt receive invitations to many glittering social occasions with free alcohol flowing. Have a good time (naturally) but do draw a respectful line if you wish to receive other invitations in the future!
Always give your best. If you are a half-hearted event manager you will never succeed.
Learn from every project, client and event. Strive to do things better.
Be understanding. Speakers and clients are busy people and they cannot always meet the deadlines we impose, however much notice we give them. Be prepared, adapt and be understanding even if it does cause you last minute work and stress. And then smile, be understanding and don’t complain!
Applying standards of etiquette and protocol should become hallmarks of you and your company and an integral part of your brand. As a professional Event Manager these are some of my ways of working. What are your personal hints and tips for business etiquette?