Not long after I started my first "real" job, a mentor at work pointed to another girl about my age and said, "You should cultivate a friendship with her. She's going places!" At the time, I was struck by the odd phrasing. The word "cultivate" stood out to me. It was as if she was suggesting friendships are like seeds for your garden - that there was some sort of friendship strategy I should employ. It was the first time I had considered that there might be such a thing as a professional friendship.
Famous entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time around". I've come to believe this to be as true about businesses as it is about people. Cultivating a well-kept garden of creative partnerships is vital to the success of any professional event planner.
Even the most talented and successful event planner isn't capable of doing everything themselves. It takes a network of trusted business partners to pull off any event of note. Here are the SIX business relationships every planner should have in their garden:
From decor lighting to video productions, an A/V company is a relationship that will need to be tapped again and again. Did you know that a rear projector should be placed at a distance of 1.5 times the height of the screen? How big should a stage be if you plan to have a 15 piece band seated orchestra style? Proper event lighting is often sacrificed on the alter of budget consciousness, but keep in mind that it doesn't matter how lovely your decor plan/centerpiece/backdrop/tablescape is. Without the right beauty lighting, who will ever see it as it was meant to be seen? You can hire the hottest national acts to perform at your event, but without the proper sound, who will hear them as they were meant to be heard? Saying you can't afford A/V after spending money on talent and decor is like saying you can't spend money to put on make-up and fix your hair because you have so much invested in your wedding dress.
2. Linen House
Some of our most exciting collaborations have come from our creative partnership with our linen provider. Linens are the foundation of an event decor plan. They are often the only decor fixture that guests feel they are allowed to touch. I've seen linens so stunning they steal the show and so essential they anchor the theme. A trusted linen associate with whom you have a history will be able to make recommendations based on theme, budget, and style.
3. Large Decor / Prop House
Unless you have a giant warehouse like us, you probably don't have room to store the vast number of centerpiece containers, specialty furniture, themed decor, and entrance effects it takes to remain competitive in our business. A large decor or prop house will consult on theme, make suggestions, and even deliver your items.
4. Tent Rentals
Unless you plan to do 100% of your event indoors, you'll need a good tent company - and not all of them are created equal. The quality of the tents is paramount. Are they clean? How often do they rotate their inventory? Many tent rental companies offer tent top draping, some area lighting, standard tables, and chairs.
Different venues have lists of caterers they prefer in their venues. When considering a catering partner, look at which caterer in your area seems to hold preferential status at the most venues. Establishing a relationship with an excellent high-end caterer is paramount, but find a reliable mid-range, well-respected caterer to serve more every day needs.
6. Floral Designer
Ooooh, I love flowers. It's wonderful to have living decor elements in your space. I love great big orchid chandeliers and 8' long rose hedge garlands and giant tulip sprays, but most of all I love clients that can afford them. A relationship with a floral designer is also key for the other 99% of your business. Floral design for parties on a budget requires someone in the know who can suggest less expensive in-season blooms in the appropriate size and color - basically how to get more floral bang for your budget.
As an event planner, you may feel as if you have to do it all. There's just no way. Don't even try. Instead, cultivate relationships with strategically chosen creative partners that offer the expertise and service that will benefit your portfolio as well as your bottom line.