Hosting a networking event is a fantastic way to make new business connections, establish yourself as an industry thought leader, and promote your brand at the same time. No matter what industry you are in, a quick search online will bring up a range of relevant networking functions across the country for people like you to get together and talk business. But if you can’t find one that meets your needs, why not just create your own? It’s not just you that will benefit; you’ll be helping others to get ahead in business and make important contacts too.
If you are considering hosting your first networking event, here are a few helpful tips to get you started.
Pick a format
Networking events come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a chat in the pub with a small group of people or a huge meeting hall with a full buffet, open bar, and thousands of attendees. You could even be a bit more unique with ideas such as speed networking, a business workshop, or structuring it around an activity like a hike. It’s totally up to you but remember the size and nature of the event will determine the atmosphere. Do you want it to be structured and formal, or laid back and casual? You should have a clear idea of exactly what you want before you begin.
Work out your budget
How much money are you able to put towards this event? Your function can be as simple as you like, but there are often a lot of costs that rack up along the way. Refreshments and a venue are essential, but you may also consider some large format printing to display your brand or even hiring a guest speaker. Decide whether you want to charge for attendance and use the money from ticket sales to fund the cost of hosting.
Choose a venue
Where will you host your networking event? The number of attendees and the format of the event will dictate how big a space you require. There are plenty of low cost venues such as pubs or meeting rooms, but consider the enticing appeal of a more distinctive venue. You want the location to be easily accessible and convenient for as many guests as possible.
Promote your event
Once you’ve planned your event, you need to start spreading the news. Use all your business’s marketing channels to promote it, including social media, your blog, email list, and even paid advertising. The more people that know about it, the better. Let all your industry contacts and local business people know about it and tell people to spread the word.
Once all your guests have gone home, you should try to follow up as soon as possible. Hopefully, you have had the chance to speak to everyone and exchanged business cards. Sending them an email with a quick thank you will give them a positive lasting impression and open the door for further communication with potential business opportunities.