How to Plan an Unforgettable Networking Event
Organising a networking event can be a hugely effective way of boosting your professional career. Not only is it an opportunity to promote your brand, but it allows you to expand your business network and meet a large number of potentially valuable connections in a short space of time. In an ideal world, you will go away from a networking event with an address book full of business opportunities, job offers and prospective new customers.
A successful networking event is an opportunity for business professionals and entrepreneurs to discuss ideas and build relationships. If done right, hosting such an event can be a massive boost to your career, but it is crucial that it is well-organised and targeted to the right audience. You don’t want your event attendees to leave after five minutes or to have a room full of people in entirely different industries.
With this in mind, here are some things to consider when planning a successful networking event.
When creating your event, it is essential that you define its purpose. Is it targeted to people in a specific industry, entrepreneurs, or exclusive to people within your company? Be clear on the types of people you want to attend and what you want them to get out of the event.
There are several different types of networking events, and you can make yours as structured or as informal as you like. Organise a speed networking event in which attendees meet as many people as possible in a short space of time, or host informative workshops and lectures to give participants an extra incentive to turn up. Alternatively, you could simply hire a room with a bar and a buffet table and allow everyone to mingle freely.
The location of your venue is crucial to its success. First and foremost, it must be easy for your participants to get to so they can easily fit the event around their busy lives. Such functions are often held before or after work, so ensure there is sufficient food and drink to keep everyone’s energy up and prevent them from leaving out of hunger. An exciting venue can be a huge draw, but if you are on a budget, hiring out a pub or small community hall can be just as effective.
What can you afford to spend on your event? Even if you are not looking to turn a profit, you will need to spend some money to get it off the ground. Consider whether you could generate some funds from ticket sales, sponsorship or allocate some money from your company’s budget.
Once the event planning is underway, you need to get the word out. Get in touch with all of your existing connections to let them know about it and ask them to spread the word. Use social media, email lists, or any other marketing streams to promote your event.
Once the event is over, you will no doubt have a pocket brimming with business cards from connections you have made. Don’t let these valuable contacts go to waste. Follow up with all of your attendees by connecting on LinkedIn and sending a short follow-up email to say thank you.
Organising a networking event can be a huge boost to your professional career, but it takes time and a great deal of planning to get it right. Consider hiring an events agency to help you.