Personal Branding for Event Planners
Liz King figures out personal branding for the rest of us
“As event planners, we’re so used to being behind the scenes that we often forget the importance of personal branding.” -Liz King, CEO Liz King Events
In one way or another, we’ve all had to think about our branding. What is the overall message that we’re putting out into the world? How do we want people to experience that message? And in what way do we want to deliver that experience? For an event planner, your business’ brand is often wrapped up into your own personal brand, and having definitive answers to these questions is what’s going to distinguish you from the rest.
One person that has developed such answers is Liz King of Liz King Events in New York City. In a short time, she has gone from event industry resource to event industry leader – being named one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry last year. Liz’s growth and business-building strategy can teach us all a bit about developing a personal brand.
Starting with social
Liz started out by gathering resources for event planners. Her blog and social media became a source of inquiry for potential clients and, in an amazing reversal of the norm, Liz’s event planning content ended up becoming a full-fledged event planning business. Culling best practices and industry resources had branded Liz as a as a social media and blogging maven in the event planning world which, in turn, led to clients looking to her as an authoritative expert.
Liz says, “Our focus is always on building the brands of our clients or companies that we often don’t make the time to brand ourselves and our work in the process. I think by now we might all agree that personal branding is incredibly important. People want to see your work and connect with you.”
For Liz, those connection points are simple. It all comes down to making the best use of the social media tools that are available to us. First of all, get your blog going.
“Blogging is one of the most important ways to brand yourself. You can move beyond the 140 characters on Twitter or the limited space on Facebook and share your experiences, expertise and what you’re learning.”
The key to blogging is not getting hung up on the commitment of it. Think of a blog as your clients’ best way to connect with your personal story. Liz says, “Blogging takes a ton of discipline, but if you can create a rhythm, you will find that there are many rewards to be reaped. Putting yourself out there may seem odd in the beginning, but it’s really important to share your experiences because that is how people will connect with you. People connect with people, not with logos.”
The other key component is, of course, maximizing your social media channels. Although social media can often seem like a daunting, wide-open world of possibilities, Liz offers these guidelines for posting content that matters and engaging in meaningful ways.
- Share articles that interest you.
- Show behind-the-scenes pictures of you setting up and executing your events.
- Interact with other industry colleagues to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck.
- Participate in Twitter chats that will educate you and where you can share your expertise.
- Join LinkedIn groups to learn and meet new people.
From community to conference
An important part of Liz’s business has always been the community that’s gathered around her resources for event planners. Liz made the decision to host the community on its own site, techsytalk.com, taking the name from an event hashtag she had developed for a conference focusing on event tech.
As Liz’s brand grew along with demand for her services, she realized that she developed a unique perspective within the industry. Liz’s interests lie in connecting event organizers with event technology and she saw a gap in resources devoted to that niche. With that, techsytalk LIVE was born – a conference focused on educating event professionals about the technology available to them.
Deciding to move to a live event was a huge step, and Liz wanted to make sure she was actually meeting people’s needs – not just adding one more conference to the world.
“I attend events all the time, but they tend to look pretty much the same. I saw an area where planners needed more education and I wanted to think outside of the box about how we could deliver that education,” says Liz.
“Knowing that planners go to and plan events all the time made me want to be as unique as possible.”
In addition to ensuring unique content, Liz knew that there was a way to create a unique feeling at the conference as well. For her, that meant attracting a specific audience. “Many industry events are highly attended by vendors. In our case, we ensure that all attendees (with the exception of paid exhibitors) are planners who are active in the industry. This gives us a really interesting group of attendees.”
techsytalk is now not only its own community, but a strong branding tool for Liz King Events that also helps to strengthen her professional relationships. “The blog and event help establish us as thought leaders in the industry and connect us with all kinds of other leaders. We meet event technology companies, other event planners and that keeps us on the bleeding edge. We can plan great content because we’re in contact with so many planners and we know what they need. We can create beneficial relationships for our exhibitors because we spend time with them and we know what they’re looking to accomplish.”
For other professionals that are thinking about setting themselves apart with personal branding – or even considering throwing their own live event – Liz offers the following advice:
“Start small. Everyone is worried about competition and beating others to the punch, but it’s about perfecting what you’re trying to do. There are people now who do bigger conferences than us, but it doesn’t worry me. We have spent so much time cultivating a fan-boy kind of crowd that is passionate about what we’re teaching and loyal to the brand. We love having other education out there. It’s not about being the biggest or the best. It’s about offering something unique in the best way you can.”
You certainly don’t need to start your own conference to develop a personal brand, but you do need a unique perspective. Once you’ve established what that is, don’t be surprised when clients are suddenly more attracted to your content and services.