8 Secrets To a Successful Networking Event
Building Relationships August 28, 2019 admin
Organizing a networking event is all about giving the human element in business a chance to shine. Gathering like-minded people under the same roof is a great way to forge new partnerships, stimulate the exchange of ideas, and have some fun in the process.
With that being said, hosting a networking event is not a task you should take lightly. An event is a machine with many working parts, so you need to ensure that each one is working properly before you open the front gate. Otherwise, you will be forced to improvise on the spot, and juggling between talking to attendees, organizing catering, and handing out brochures is a recipe for chaos.
In order to avoid this scenario, you need to understand what the elements of a successful networking event are, so you can replicate them while organizing your own. And to help you out, we will share some of our favorite tips and tricks for turning your event into a memorable one.
1. Select the Right Venue
The first secret to making a successful event is choosing the right venue for the occasion. This is by far the most important decision you will make in terms of resources. You don’t want to waste money by renting out an oversized venue if you’re only going to invite a couple of dozen people. The location of the venue is also important. Even people that are hyped about attending will start having doubts if it takes several hours to reach the venue. Another factor you should consider is whether the venue has disability access for bathrooms, parking. This will ensure that attendees of all shapes and sizes can participate in the event equally.
2. Adjust the Ambiance
Once you’ve picked out a venue, you can start adapting it for the event. The first thing you should do is look at it in terms of movement. You want people to be able to move around freely, so make sure all furniture is appropriately spaced. In terms of audio-visual experience, you will want to enhance the mood with tasteful decorations and music, without turning them into a distraction. Finally, be sure to provide multiple, comfortable sitting options for everyone. Taking a breather while sitting on a comfy chair is guaranteed to leave a positive impression on attendees.
3. Provide Catering Options
Getting people to attend your event is one thing, but making them stay for the full duration is another. And if there is one thing that makes an attendee stick around for a while longer, it’s a well-stocked catering table. Food will provide much-needed nourishment after many networking sessions, and sharing a drink with someone is a great way to start a conversation. As far as food is concerned, keep in mind that people have different dietary habits, so be sure to offer vegan, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly options. When it comes to drink, you will want to stick to coffee, tea, fruit juice, water, and maybe wine to help loosen tongues.
4. Hire an Assistant
Organizing an event always involves taking care of a myriad of small tasks, such as placing promo materials, welcoming attendees, turning off the lights after the event, etc. And if you’re trying to do everything on your own, you will inevitably forget to do some of them. This won’t make or break the event, but it can cause some inconvenience for both you and the attendees. So to ensure that everything gets taken care of, you should seek some assistance from a professional event planner. It is the job of an event planner to help you keep things in check throughout the event, you can focus on rubbing elbows with the attendees.
5. Invite the Right Crowd
The purpose of a networking event is to get people together and have them interact in productive, meaningful ways. To create an engaging conversation, you want to have as many interesting people as possible on your guest list. Inviting speakers will help you get the conversation going quickly. Inviting local industry figures will make your event more relevant to locals, and the same goes for influencers and the online crowd. Inviting visitors from abroad will provide an alternative perspective to the conversation. Finally, inviting your friends and family will help you maintain composure when the chaos starts.
6. Promote the Event
The last thing you have to do before the event is underway is to start promoting it. There are numerous events happening every day, and if you wish to set yourself apart, you will need to spread the word around, both physically and digitally. On the physical side of things, you should talk to as many people as possible in person and invite them to the event. Also, try using fliers, posters, mail invitations to cover all your bases. In terms of digital promotion, creating a Facebook event is all but mandatory, and you can take things a step further by posting status updates on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.
7. Mingle with Attendees
To ensure that your event is a success, you have to take things beyond planning and start actively participating in it. Mingling with attendees will allow you to gather valuable feedback for improving the event on the spot, just don’t be too overbearing while doing this. Dress appropriately for the occasion, shake hands with people, and offer assistance to attendees that seem confused or distressed. Be on the lookout for other event organizers and ask them to chime in with their opinion on your event. Finally, don’t forget to walk confidently and smile a lot.
8. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Post-event nurture is the secret to creating a truly memorable event experience. It will take a while for attendees to process everything that happened during the event, so while this is going on you can earn some more favour by following up. Try to get in touch with attendees you personally invited after the event, and thank them for attending. You can also send out event proceedings in the form of a whitepaper or e-book via email, or share them on social media and your website. If you had a sign-up form during the event, use the information gathered to notify attendees about future events.
The purpose of a networking event is to get to know people better, forge new relationships, and exchange relevant industry information. Hosting a networking event is a challenging task, but if you keep these tips in the back of your head, you will make things work in no time.
About the author:
Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.