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T-Shaped Event Professionals (And How to Learn it All)

Blair Pettrey

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Anyone who plans events, knows that what is required of them, is multiple hats.What do some of those hats entail for the ‘average’ event professional? (10 ways Event Professionals can learn additional skills in their spare time.)

  1. Online Marketer

  2. Traditional Marketer

  3. Social Media Expert

  4. Graphic Designer

  5. HR professional

  6. Accounting Expert

  7. Videographer/Photographer

  8. Account Manager

  9. Project Manager

  10. Sales Genius

  11. Funding Pro

  12. (…the list is never ending if you didn’t get the hint.)

The reality is, when it comes to event professionals – wearing the multitude of hats that come with that basically means, we all must be ‘T-Shaped Event Professionals’.

What is a T-Shaped Event Professional?

Coined by recruiters to define the breadth of knowledge that potential recruits must have, ‘T-Shaped Event Professionals’ have a wide understanding of multiple ‘hats’. An event professional might have experience with attracting sponsors and vendors to an event, mobile event apps, or even how to plan an entire event on a Gantt chart. They may be ‘experts’ at those 3 areas of events, but additionally they know ‘enough’ about online marketing, traditional marketing, photography, sales, project management, and graphic design to ‘get them by’. Hello ‘T-Shaped Event Professionals’.

 T-Shaped Event Professional

T-shaped professionals bring a wealth of knowledge, and an ability to quickly learn new and additional tasks, while also bringing an expertise in a few essential talents and skills.

Learning additional skills as an event professional is essential – as well as being able to identify, adapt and quickly identify the industry expectations. So how does a traditional event professional with expertise in planning and executing events, but not as much as knowledge in online marketing, or vendor attraction, or reducing live event engagement attrition – become at least, an under-stander and doer of the multitude of tasks that come with being a T-shaped Event Professional?

1. Continuing Education

Mobile Event Apps Continuing EducationDepending on the skills that an event professional wants to learn, there are countless opportunities to learn online. and

Each of these websites connect event professionals to online courses taught by Universities around the world. Each site showcases university courses that can be audited for free – in topics across the spectrum. Examples include University of Michigan’s “Python for Everybody” (learning to program and analyze data with Python) or University of Virginia’s “Strategic Planning and Execution”.

2. Blogs

Blogs event apps skills

To say a lot can be learned from experts in the industry through blogs, is an understatement. While there is a lot of fluff out there – there are also a lot of truly valuable blogs for event professionals – in the industry, and out of it. A simple Google search can help you find the answers and talents of anything that needs to be learned, and blogs are one of the multitude of solutions.

Our favorite event professional blogs (other than our own, of course) include: Event Manager Blog, BizBash and MeetingsNet.

3. Groups/Clubs

Event Groups/ClubsRemember growing up and how much could be learned from boy scouts and girl scouts (or the like)? Groups aren’t experts, but the ability to connect with those who are experts are great in clubs. Committing time to a weekly or monthly event is hard when event professionals are busy planning and executing their own events, but just one happy hour, presentation, or coffee break can be of countless value. is a great solution for event professionals to find groups that can best be of value and time – from Tech meetups and Astronomy meetups  to meetups for career advice!

4. Forums

live event forums engagementYes, we’re talking about forums – online communities where people interact with each other, that isn’t social media. Believe it or not forums used to be called “message boards” and they were all the rage. Yet, regardless of what EventProfs want to call them – a lot of great and worthwhile community forums still exist, and can help event professionals learn a lot. has a multitude of valuable information on any topic an event professional may want to learn – SEO, Event Tech, Creative Business Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs, and even Under Water Basket Weaving.   Other forums for event professionals include Facebook groups such as the Event Profs and LinkedIn groups such as Event Managers and Event Planner Productivity Hacks. 

5. Mentors

Event Professional MentorsThere are a multitude of reasons every event professional should have a mentor(s), regardless of what stage of your career they are in. A lot can be learned from those who are experts in the community – from learning and recognizing important skills, networking possibilities and knowledge of growth to probably the hardest skill, humbleness – mentors are essential.  A simple Google search can tell you in 10 steps how to find a great mentor – but the best way is to look at those who you already know, and respect. CEO’s of event technology companies make great mentors! 

Hubspot recently shared a great article on how to find a mentor at any stage of your career.

6. News

Event Profs news A mere five or so minutes a day reading the news, can help event professionals stay on top of current trends and the world around. By committing to being updated consistently, event professionals can better understand what matters to people (aka potential attendees), what skills might be up and coming, and more. Favorite, every day news sites of ours include Huffington Post Good News section and Yahoo’s Good News.

7. Live Events

 Live Event AppsRemember those things that event professionals plan and execute all the time… What are they called? Oh yes, live events aka conferences and seminars! Though #EventProfs may be busy working and planning and making event success happen – it’s important to not forget that events exist for event professionals as well. 

There are a plethora of events specifically for event professionals every year – however, consider other live events and conferences as well, that focus on the skills you desire to grow and learn more about in efforts to becoming a more ‘T shaped event professional’, such as: Sales Machine Summit, Destination Codes, or the Business Transformation Conference.

8. Community Education

Community Education event appCommunity colleges and community education through county and state departments provide great opportunities for little cost – and it’s not just to add another set of post-nominal letters after your name. From learning new skills to meeting other business professionals and increasing your network – community education is a great way for event professionals broaden the depth of knowledge and understanding as they become ‘T-shaped event professionals’.

Community colleges often allow those not wanting/needing college credit to audit courses for next to nothing – and skills can be learned from accounting and bookkeeping, to event management.

9. Networking Groups

event professional Networking GroupsNetworking groups often get a lot of bad rap; however, the right ones can be a great asset for event professionals. Whether it’s learning how to count um’s (and learning to speak in front of groups) at your local Toastmasters group, learning valuable productivity and sales goals from a Sandler’s sales group, or growing your network and business with BNI, networking groups help strengthen event professionals skills and abilities as well as meeting others: perfect for the ‘T shaped Event Professional’.

10. Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness for eventsOverall health and wellness frees our mind to be more spacious and less anxious – allowing room for more T-shaped skills. Don’t forget to take care of team you – which in turn, can result in live event success.

Find free or low cost opportunities to better yourself, #EventProfs! Take a walk at lunch, drink more water, start your day with a moment of reflection – start journaling, mediate or pray, watch a motivational YouTube video, etc. – believe in yourself, and your capabilities as an event professional. You’ve got this #EventProfs!

Events are no easy feat – and being an event professional requires wearing multiple hats. We salute you, #EventProfs! If you need help on the journey to live event engagement success – whether it’s a mobile event app, event registration, or the multitude of other event technology solutions MeetingPlay offers, we’re here for you! 

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