It’s important to have a clear purpose in mind when you’re setting up a networking event. Who are you setting it up for? You have to look at it from all the different angles of everyone involved. For instance, if the purpose is for all people to get more referrals or leads, then consider the best approach for organizing the event in such a way that people can comingle and exchange information in an easy way. Don’t limit their time at the event to just hearing lectures and speeches.
Think about the scope of the event too. By scope, we mean industry and size. Consider the number of people you will include in the event. Are you thinking about creating more of a sit-down environment where people talk about what they do in a circle, or are you thinking of more of a big group gathering, where there is a massive exchange of business cards and more of a freestyle networking environment? Consider setting up something like a speed networking event.
If you’re shooting for more of a large or mid-size event, you’ll want to give the people a kind of heads-up so that they can mark the date on their calendar. Secure the location as well. Now that you’ve thought about the scope, style, and purpose of your event, the additional step is to set up a venue, and you’ll need to do this as soon as possible.
After, you’ll want to spread the word. Even though this might seem really obvious, you’d be astonished at how many people set up events, and they don’t do the proper level of promotions to make sure it goes through the rounds of getting enough attention.
Plan the refreshments as well. This is a networking event, and this is not exactly for entertaining. People are going to be here to greet and meet one another, and they are not necessarily going to be there to pig out. Make certain that you have light refreshments, and nothing too over the top, and keep everything really easy and light. One good rule of thumb is to not have anything that needs a fork or sticks in your teeth.
Give plenty of preparation time to the participants too. It’s a great idea to make certain that your attendees can know what to expect. For instance, if you’re thinking about a small event inside someone’s house, you might give the participants information on how many people are coming. Then, they can plan to bring enough samples, brochures, flyers, and business cards, etc.
Make sure that you also facilitate mingling at the event. The key to any successful networking event is to facilitate the mingling that is going on through the group. Whenever you get a group of people together, there will always be people who mingle well, work their way well through room, and build connections. Some people are a little bit insecure or nervous in a room where they don’t know all the people there.
What are your tips for a successful networking event?