Corporate Event Planning 101: Preparing for Your First Client Meeting
How to get your best corporate event planning game on from the start
You recently launched your event planning business and potential clients are already beginning to notice you. Congrats! There is a purpose to all your hard work and planning!
Very soon, you will be called to your first client meeting and here’s where your event planning training meets the road. But just how do the most experienced meeting planners prepare for this initial yet critical first contact?
Get your event planning toolkit ready and read on to find out more!
Dig It Up — What to Research Before Your First Meeting
Yes, your life as a meeting planner will be hectic at times and researching your client in-depth might not seem to initially rank high on your event planning checklist, but don’t skip this first step!
Taking the time to glance at the first pages of your client’s annual reports (which are usually available online), blog posts, tweets or Facebook page will give you incredible insights into your new client’s business objectives and will help you chair your first meeting with a level of professionalism that will become your standard.
But what happens when your client doesn’t have an online presence at all? Some corporate event planning professionals who earn a six-figure salary ask their acquaintances for useful information on the contact themselves: for example, are they health food fanatics or do they love meat and potatoes?
Do they like a particular brand of coffee?
The answers to these questions will help you propose a great location for your first meeting and get you in your client’s good graces before you even meet.
That Initial Handshake: Earning Your New Client’s Trust
The next step on your event planning checklist is to begin by projecting a professional image from the very moment you shake hands with your new client.
Remember: a brisk handshake and a genuine smile that says “I am looking forward to working with you” goes a much longer way than an expensive designer blazer!
Here’s another tip: you can impress your client —without spending a dime— by arriving at your meeting with a personalized presentation featuring their brand identity. Simply use your word processor to copy and paste your client’s name and logo (if they have one) in Power Point.
As you know, companies and individuals spend considerable energy developing their brand, and this attention to detail will be noticed by your client.
Covering Your Bases … while Creating the Big Picture
The world of corporate event planning means a lot of back-and-forth between the client and the meeting planner, so don’t feel as though you have to touch upon every single detail with your new client at this stage.
However, as the meeting planner, you do want to leave this initial meeting with a clear understanding of the following key points:
- Why is this event taking place? Is it a recurring yearly event, or a one-off? Will this event draw attention to something special (a new product, a prom, or a business milestone)?
- How many hours/days/weeks is the event scheduled to run?
- Who will be participating? Will they also be bringing spouses and/or children along? Will there be one or more VIPs attending?
- Has this event taken place before? If so, what went right and what were the takeaway lessons?
- What impression should this event leave on its participants?
- What is your client’s investment for this event?
It’s a good practice to carefully note the answers to these questions in your event binder so you can refer to them at any point if you feel things might be moving in a different direction than what your client initially envisioned.
For every corporate event planning client you have, make sure he or she also informs you of who will have decision-making capabilities on the day the event takes place. This seemingly small bit of information will be absolute gold when one of the event participants requests a last-minute change to your event agenda!
A well-thought-out initial client meeting will enable you to write a resume of your discussion and then send it for their written approval.
Making a great first impression is an art and a science, and by following these tips, you will soon get enough corporate event planning jobs to earn your way to an event planning school doctorate in no time!