Mentorship matters: Fostering the next generation of event planners.

Calling all event planners! Whether you’re new to the game or an organizing pro, a mentorship experience can help you reach the next stage in your event planning career. 

Mentorships are a pivotal part of the event planning community. It’s how knowledge is passed from generation to generation and how experienced organizers shake up their planning with fresh perspectives. Enrich your network, hone your skills, receive guidance, and give back to the industry, all through mentorships! 

For potential mentors and mentees alike, it can be confusing, even intimidating, to search for a new mentor/mentee. With so many organizations, communication channels, and people in this industry, it’s difficult to know where to start. 

That’s where we come in! Read the Expo Pass guide to event planning mentorship to learn everything you need to know about starting and nurturing a mentor relationship. 

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Finding a mentor/mentee.

If only there were dating apps for mentors and mentees! Unfortunately, we don’t have an app for that yet. Instead, we’ve compiled several tips on how to find the perfect mentorship partner. 

For mentees 

More often than not, mentees initiate mentorship. While event planning pros may be open to mentorship, they’re less likely to impose their wisdom and experience on someone else. So, don’t sit around expecting your mentor to show up! 

Identify your values and goals and use these to find a mentor whose career aligns with your future vision. This may mean they’ve already accomplished what you hope to, or maybe they work in a similar niche you’re interested in. Creating an “ideal” mentor profile will help you identify them in real life. 

Online platforms are a great way to find and connect with possible mentors. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are the “cocktail lounges” of the internet. They provide ample information on prospective mentors, including their style, experience, and personality.

Event planning conferences are another avenue for meeting potential mentors. This option has the benefit of in-person first impressions. It’s easy for emails and DMs to get lost in the digital crowd. Meeting in person increases the likelihood of a successful connection.

For mentors 

If you’re an aspiring mentor, you don’t have to wait for the right mentee to find you. You can volunteer in certain places or attend conferences to meet emerging event planners. It’s just as crucial for aspiring mentors to know what they’re looking for in a mentee and their purpose as a mentor. 

Reaching out to colleges and universities to offer mentorship opportunities is a phenomenal way to connect with developing event planners. You could host a special Q&A session or a guest lecture for a class and possibly connect with a few students whom you’d like to mentor. 

Groups like MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and other event-planning conferences are great places to meet aspiring mentees. You can also get involved with Facebook groups, offering advice on those feeds, which may lead to one-on-one chats with potential mentees. 

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How to establish a connection.

Once you’ve found a mentor, getting in touch can be the most nerve-racking part. If you meet in person, beginning a mentorship is as simple as asking for a tête-à-tête coffee after the most recent session. Reaching out online brings with it a few more considerations. 

Your method of contact depends on how familiar you are with the person. A phone call is acceptable if they’re a family friend. If they’re a stranger, opt for an email or direct message. The key to these messages is to be brief and respectful

Introduce yourself and explain why you’re asking them to be a mentor. Be specific and personal; mention shared values or an event that inspired you. Remember, a personal relationship, whether business or private, starts with a personal approach. 

What to include in your message: 

  • Name & brief background 
  • Why them? 
  • Goals & pain points 
  • Specific questions 

No matter what they say, remember that for most people, it’s a huge compliment to be asked. Confidently introduce yourself and be open to whatever comes next. Even if nothing happens immediately, you never know how or when that seed will blossom.

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The first meeting.

Being prepared is one of the most respectful things you can do. If a potential mentor has set aside time in their busy schedule to meet with you, it’s only fair that you make the most of that time by coming with your goals and questions ready. 

Vulnerability is the key to forging strong, productive relationships. While you don’t need to give them your life story, it’s essential to be honest about where you’re struggling and what your goals are. The same goes for mentors. Be open and direct with your answers so your mentee gets the most for their time. 

Establish expectations and boundaries early. This is fundamental to a successful mentorship. If you both know what you intend to get out of the experience and how best to communicate (when, what channels, when you’re unavailable, etc.), there’s no chance of fracturing miscommunication. 

Conclude this meeting by setting clear goals that your mentee will work on before the next meeting. Giving your mentorship an immediate direction increases the likelihood that it will become a fruitful, long-lasting relationship. 

Lastly, remember the old saying: early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early, and you’re halfway to a positive first impression!

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Top tips for mentors.

We love talking about ourselves as much as the next guy, but good mentorship is as much about getting to know your mentee as it is about sharing your experience. Encourage them to ask questions and listen. The better you know them, the more accurately you can tailor your advice to speak to their dreams and pain points. 

Review their social media accounts. This isn’t just so you can get to know them, although it’s a spectacular window into their personality. Social media is a core part of building a successful business, let alone an event planning business. Advising how to improve their content creation will help them grow their following and industry reputation. 

Help mentees construct a 3-to-5-year plan that they can use to guide their goals and strategies. If they already have one worked out, you can point out ways their plan can be improved or areas that may require more time.

Before the meeting ends, let your mentee know when you’d next be able to meet. Intervals of 3 to 6 months or even a year provide ample time for your mentee to act on the tasks/goals you’ve set for them and report back.

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Top tips for mentees.

It’s thrilling to find someone willing to share their wisdom. However, it’s essential to set your expectations before beginning your mentorship. It’s too easy for beginning planners to think this new connection will be your golden ticket to event planning luxury. 

An event planning mentor is not meant to walk you into the industry’s upper tier. Their job is to provide guidance based on their experience. You’ll have to do all the hard work yourself, but you’ll have the advantage of an experienced perspective. 

Be teachable. This trait is vital for getting the most out of your mentorship. Ask questions and then listen to their answers. Especially if you receive constructive criticism, these notes are growth opportunities that could pay off big in the long run. Everyone loves a compliment, but criticism is how you move forward. 

A good mentee is proactive. Follow through on your mentor’s advice and assigned tasks, and be willing to try your own planning strategies. This way, you’ll have much to report on, allowing them to refine your approach or confirm that you’re on the right path. 

When you succeed, share it! Tell them how their advice has impacted you, and express your gratitude. Everyone loves hearing how they’ve helped someone else as it affirms their purpose and strengthens the mentorship bond. 

Mentorship matters: Fostering the next generation of event planners.


The cycle of mentorship. 

A mentorship is a special kind of business relationship. It’s how one generation impacts the next, how experience and inexperience meet to benefit each other. While there is a crucial networking component to all mentorships, there’s also the pure aspect of giving back to this beautiful industry! 

A successful mentorship benefits more than the mentee. It’s a chance for event planning pros to enrich their community with fresh perspectives. If you’ve grown cynical about the joys of event planning, connecting with a newcomer is a brilliant way to revive your enthusiasm.

The best part about mentorships is that eventually, the mentees become the mentors, continuing the cycle of shared knowledge! The result is an industry of connected, creative, passionate individuals all striving to create unforgettable experiences!

March 18, 2024

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March 18, 2024

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