Event Planner Interview: Professor Jill Robinson

People Buy People

When Professor Jill Robinson enters a room, the light that she brings with her makes the world seem full of opportunities. Her energy makes you want to stop what you are doing, and go after your dreams. I had the opportunity to learn from Professor Robinson in my event management class my senior year of college and her class inspired me to pursue events full steam. Not only did she give us endless practical advice but she encouraged us to lean into our creative sides and always work with a deeper purpose. All I could do in class was try to soak up as much as she was saying as I could. She inspired me to enter rooms with light and always remember to listen to what wisdom others pass along.

Professor Robinson has had a notable career in the event world and now serves as the Assistant Dean of External Relations and Strategic Partnerships in the Jack C. Massey College of Business at Belmont University. She first made waves in the event world by leading a two and a half year assignment to celebrate Tennessee’s 200th birthday. This assignment took her to all 95 counties of the state where she worked with a committee in each to organize projects that celebrate their heritage. Her hard work culminated in a successful event with over 16,000 volunteers. Professor Robinson has also worked with the Tennessee Associate of Craft Artists and Lifeway. Before her time at Belmont University, Professor Robinson worked with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to organize volunteers and later lead all fundraising events.

Because of such success, I reached out for the opportunity to put together some of her wisdom and knowledge for upcoming event planners like myself. Below is what she passed along.

3 Tips for Anyone Planning Events

“People Buy People”

1. Relationships Matter

Professor Robinson could not emphasize enough how important forming relationships is within the industry with other planners and all vendors. She spoke to how in the event planning industry, you are buying a person and that service that that person provides. When she said “people by people”, I couldn’t help but pause for a second at the stark truth of this statement. If you have formed relationships with trust and come into a situation with complete honesty, people are going to be more likely to put their faith in you to help make their dreams come to life.

2. Learn What Your Core Skill Set Is

Finding out what you are good at through experience will help you become a better planner, Professor Robinson says. Whether you are better with creativity or executing the finest details, whatever this core skill is, Professor Robinson emphasizes putting yourself as a planner into situations where these skills shine. The partner to this advice is also knowing when to say no and not look for jobs that do not utilize this core skill set.

3. Believe in the Team Around You

A planner is only so much without the team of people working around them. Robinson advises that there must be a high level of trust with the people that you are working with. This includes all vendors, suppliers, and volunteers as well as any hired staff. Taking the time to build rapport, Professor Robinson emphasizes, takes a time investment but it is very good to have. Together with this, one must create a culture of belonging between everyone you are working with on an event. This is so they know they are all working towards the same goal and that everyone has an important role to play in that day. This will help improve efficiency, attitude and trust within these relationships and while on site for events.

For Those Entering the Industry
1. Get the Most Varied Experience You Can

For new planners, Professor Robinson says, it is incredibly important to get as much and as varied of experience as you can. Getting broad experience will help you to narrow down what you are good at. She advises going out there and offering yourself to people who are looking for help just to get that experience. You help them to fill in workers that they need and you gain valued experience.

2. Kindness Matters

“Be kind, and notice the people that are kind to you”

Going off of what she said earlier about how people are buying into you as a planner, being kind to all as your first instinct will help your career tremendously. People will be more inclined to continue working with you if you are kind and honest. She adds, however, it is important to also notice who is kind to you. Forming relationships is very important in this industry and kindness will truly help you go a long way and leave lasting impressions.

One Very Important Final Piece of Wisdom

“It is very easy for event planners not to take care of themselves.”

Because the job is 24/7 and there is always pressure, Professor Robinson wants to make sure every planner hears that it is crucial to find something to help your well being. This is different for everyone, but every planner needs some sort of reset in order to avoid burn out and to sustain themselves. Finding something to ground yourself, will help you think clearer, connect with the job better and accomplish more.

Professor Jill Robinson is so wise that her knowledge could fill a book. I am grateful for the opportunity to share these few very important tips that she generously passed along to me. All in all, if you are an event planner that has been doing this for five years or someone like me who is just getting started; everyone should heed her advice. Begin chasing those dreams by gaining experience to find your core skills and use those to better your events. People buy people so kindness and honesty are very important to build relationships that will last. At the end of the day, do not forget to take care of yourself and let your light shine.

Let us know what new wisdom you gained from this interview!

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1 Comment

Naomi Moench · April 1, 2023 at 9:51 pm

People will truly remember genuine kindness they will also recognize when it is not!

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