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The Link Event Professionals' Tara Liaschenko

"Talented people can be creative on a tight budget. I feel that's one of my strengths. It's not a bummer, it's cool and it's a challenge. I say, 'Bring it on.'"

At 31 years old, Tara Liaschenko has had a full and varied career in event planning. Her newest venture, the Link Event Professionals, is a little more than 6 months old and proving to be a great move for this confident, caring and community-minded planner.

Title: CEO
Age: 31
How long in business: Since August 2003
What she plans: Link Event Professionals focuses its business on event services of any kind, fund-raising, charity and non-profit (It's challenging, so it's not overrun with competition," says Liaschenko).
Motto: "Under-promise, over-deliver."
Staff: One partner
Career Path: Liaschenko produced fashion shows throughout college, After graduating, she became the national education manager for Nioxin, an Atlanta-based manufacturer of hair products, where she planned 360 events a year and traveled 85 percent of the time. She then moved to Florida to become the director of on-air image and product knowledge. In May 2002, her position was eliminated and she wasn't ready to plan again so she started the Plan It Event Resource Guide, a compilation of industry needs. When she was ready to re-enter the planning arena, she sold her business to her partner and formed Link Event Professionals.
Where she grew up: Islip, New York and then Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Where she lives now: St. Pete, Florida
Where she went to college: Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri
Favorite magazines: W, WWD, Special Event magazine and Entrepreneur magazine
Favorite foods: Mexican or Italian. "I love food," she says.

Do you have any pet projects?
The Link Charity Dinner program is an ongoing project in which for an all-inclusive price restaurants provide a set menu with tax, tip and alcohol included. Clients look for the restaurant they want, select the number of guests, pay and go. It can be utilized by businesses or for family reunions, and all of the money goes to charity. It's cool because menus can be adjusted, it's good for the community and local restaurants and it's for charity

Where do you draw your inspiration and get ideas? Everywhere. Many are spontaneous and come from my environment; the media and TV play a role and actually, ideas just constantly pop into my head. I can't stop the ideas.

How has the economy affected your events this year?
Last year, 2003, was horribly tough. But it has started picking up. My business has only been around since August but I can already see the difference.

How do you make an event effective when budgets are going down?
Talented people can be creative on a tight budget. I feel that's one of my strengths. It's not a bummer, it's cool and it's a challenge. I say, 'Bring it on.'

How are expectations changing?
People want to know what they are getting for their money. People also want to see us continually raise the bar. Basically, expectations are set higher.

How do you keep yourself engaged in your work?
I love it so much the question should be, 'How do I step away from it?' I need to force myself to step back sometime.

How has your job changed the years?
I used to work for other people. Now, with my own business, I have more freedom to do what I want. I own my mistakes and my triumphs.

What trends are you seeing in event style?
I don't plan around trends. It's not my thing. I try to set trends, not follow them. But if I had to call one trend, I see simplicity. I also see a lot of color.

What is the most important component of an event to you?
It's about a complete environment. You can't sacrifice any component or you risk sacrificing how memorable it will be. This environment stimulates all senses-taste, touch, sight, smell and feel.

How do you measure an event's success?
I base it on the memorable factor. Are people talking about it a month from when the event occurred? Did I get more business from it? If the answers are 'yes' than it was a success.

How has technology affected the way you plan events? I've always been big into technology. The Internet makes research easier and it's a great stimulator of ideas if used correctly. I'm now purchasing silent auction software. Not enough people have it and really makes a difference in the way the auction is executed.

—Shari Lynn Rothstein

Posted 04.15.04
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