"Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time."
Attending networking events is a wonderful way to grow your professional network and knowledge, so it would make sense that hosting an event would allow you to achieve even greater success. In fact, according to a recent HubSpot blog that I read, they said 95% say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. (Source)
Having said that, there is no shortage of events out there and my clients tell me that they are inundated with requested by clients, suppliers and industry to be at something every week so how do you stand out and make it meaningful for yourself and those that attend?
Here are some essential points to consider so you save yourself time, money and effort.
Define the purpose of your event
What do you hope to achieve with your event? Do you want more business leads? To create more of a buzz around your company? To raise money or awareness? To spread a message?
If your event attendees can see your purpose, motivation and enthusiasm, they are much more likely to get involved and engage with you.
Determine the scope of the event
Working out your purpose will also help you work out the scope.
Will your event be an intimate lunch for 20 guests by invitation only? Or can you foresee 100+ people coming along to mingle? Will it be structured with an itinerary and a guest speaker? Or follow a more relaxed format? Once you have the scope, you’ll be able to look for a (well suited) venue.
Choose the right venue
It might be possible to have the event at your office if you have an appropriate meeting room. This is great if you are trying to promote your company.
If not, look for somewhere that’s the right size and has the right kind of catering for your event. A local cafe or restaurant might be ideal, or a small function room might suit your needs better. I spoke at a Women in Property Breakfast recently and they deliberately capped the audience so it was intimate. The location, food and service at the venue they chose made everyone feel very privileged to be there.
Choose the date and time
Will your event be a one off occasion, or a regular recurring time? Do you want it during working hours, or outside them? Know your audience to know what suits best. I find working parents prefer breakfasts and lunches for example so they can be home for bedtime however graduates prefer evening drinks so they can socialise more freely. The date and time will be determined by the venue you choose, so consider these all together.
Advertise and promote
This is the most important part – to make sure people attend your event! Advertise and promote the event wherever you can and spread the word. I find a personalised approach works best. Be sure to let your guests know the purpose of the event and what they should bring/ expect.
Attend and mingle
Your last job is to attend the event and mingle. Hosting is all about making your guests feel welcome, motivated and energised, and of course you can subtly promote yourself through leading clever conversations about your projects and successes.
Hosting a networking event is well worth the effort involved, and opens up the doors for many work and business opportunities, ideas and new friends. Most people prefer meeting face to face and the biggest reason is 77% say they prefer in-person conferences due to the ability to read body language and facial expressions. (Source)
Successful networking is a must have business skill. If you are looking to sharpen your skills register now for the 3 Hour Business Networking Skills Workshop here.
Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit www.juliapalmer.com & www.BusinessNetworkingAcademy.com.au