You may think that having 500+ connections on LinkedIn is impressive, but there’s nothing more worthwhile than meeting someone face-to-face, talking about your career and discussing what the future holds for both yourself and your industry.
No matter what sector you operate in, developing your own personal brand and having an active social media presence is now essential. But, we’re often blinded by how many connections and followers we have and therefore lack healthy, positive and truthful engagement.
Networking events are a great way to participate in meaningful interactions and get your name out there. There has been a lot of research that suggest networking events are pivotal to success, so much so that 85% of jobs are filled through them — can you afford to miss out on them?
We’ve got the lowdown on how to host a spectacular networking event that drives success and brings professionals to one place.
Know your industry
If you’re planning to host a networking event for your industry peers, you must do your research. Check to see whether there are similar networking events being held in your area and if there is, how are you going to make yours different? People won’t rearrange their schedules to attend another event if you’re just going to offer the same agenda to the one they’re already attending.
You also want to make sure that you invite the most influential people in your industry to attend and become an integral part to the event. If they make the decision to come, it’s almost guaranteed that other people who wouldn’t necessarily attend on their own accord would make room in their diaries.
Talk with sponsors
It’s important to make sure that other businesses are aware of your event, because they could potentially become a sponsor and drive the success even further. There’s nothing wrong with bringing more people on board as it will likely introduce you to further opportunities and escalate the exposure of the occasion.
Sponsors could range from catering suppliers to conference venues themselves, this could save you a lot of finance in the long run and guarantee the longevity of your networking event.
Choose a venue
This is one of the most important parts of networking event planning, as you want to pick a place that is convenient to your audience. Pick somewhere that is central and has easy transportation links for those who don’t drive — think Uber, taxi firms, trains and buses. As well as this, you also need to make sure there are parking spaces nearby or spaces occupied by the venue that can be used for the event for those who choose to drive.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential locations, you then must consider numbers. It’s important to have a rough idea of how many people will turn up to your event so you can pick a venue that has enough space. If your venue has an associated cost, you must then consider selling tickets if you aren’t able to fund it yourself and this will give you a better idea of how many people plan on attending.
You need to pick a space that is spacious too — otherwise, people who feel as though it is too crowded won’t return to your next event. Make sure that there is enough room for a stage/presentation, seating, complementary refreshment station and general space to stand and talk with other attendees.
After the venue has been finalised, you must create the right atmosphere for attendees. Social media and user generated content will play a big part in the promotion of future events, so you must make sure it has the right aesthetic. Make sure to invest in some pull-up banners, flyers and other advertising materials to ensure that your brand is always at the forefront of your guest’s minds. To make your event stand out from other networking events, consider using a portable gobo projector to project your events branding (and possibly sponsors) around the room.
Set your agenda
It’s crucial that you have a reliable agenda to ensure that your event runs smoothly. If you can speak publicly during the promotion stages of what your even will include, this will entice people to attend. There are multiple ways you can schedule the day and experiences you could offer to make this your attendees one-stop-shop for getting to know people in the industry.
Some examples could include masterclasses, public speakers, workshops, general breaks to network and even panels for further discussions. You want to make sure that each part of the event serves an interest and is valuable to the people who are attending.
Evidently, there is a lot of planning that goes in to creating a spectacular networking event. Make sure that yours stands out from the crowd and captures the attention of other businesses and industry professionals.