Contributed by Jody Long If you’re new to the event planning business, whether Corporate or Social, odds are that you’re going to want to hit the ground running. Here are 5 steps you should take as soon as you get started, that will easily give you a head start in the business and set you up for successful events in the future. 1. Get some reading materials. Purchase the book “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies”. Put your name in it, and don’t let it leave your side. This will be your bible, and go-to book for lists, questions, how-to’s, and so much more. It is an excellent reference guide and resource for any meeting & event planner. It covers everything from large trade shows, to small meetings and every small detail in between. 2. Get more education. Attend a local seminar specifically for event planners. These one-day seminars are a great way to jumpstart your career knowledge and take in lots of information quickly. They’re also a great way to stay up to date with current trends in the industry. Find companies that offer local one day courses, such as the “Stress Free Event Planning” course from www.Pryor.com. 3. Make local connections. Make sure you have plenty of business cards and start to introduce yourself to the sales or event manager at local hotels and other venues. Once you have connections, it will be much easier to browse through your contact list when you have an event to plan. 4. Set up a profile on LinkedIn. This is a great website to make other connections with possible speakers, other event planners, and more. You’ll also be able to connect with other event planners in your area through LinkedIn groups & meet-ups. Be sure to keep your resume information current on LinkedIn. Here are a few group suggestionsthat are nationwide, but be sure to look for some local groups as well: BizBash—Event Planners Gather Event Planners & Coordinators Event Planning & Event Management - the 1st Group for Event Professionals Event Planning Professionals 5. Gain some valuable experience. Volunteer at local events, or offer to help plan a friend’s social event. This will help you get organized and you’ll learn if there are any areas you need to improve on. Volunteering will also put you in touch with other event planners, some of whom could act as your potential mentor.