Networking events by nature carry an element of uncertainty. As any good event planner will tell you, these events are among the trickiest ones to pin down. Whenever the event depends solely on audience participation, it challenges the event managers to bring their A-game and make the event a success.
Here’s how expert planners come up with successful networking events almost every time:
Aligning goals and needs
It’s fine to have multiple goals for an event, but as any expert will tell you, having one clear main goal and smaller related goals is the recipe for success for any networking event. When the organiser’s goal aligns with the needs of potential attendees, it’s a perfect match. Example: a developer’s conference where the main goal of organisers is showcasing new technology and tools can potentially become a great networking event for those interested in the latest technology.
Location is the key
The location has a huge bearing on the success of a networking event. A convenient location, preferably closer to easy access points, city centres and business districts that are well connected with roadways, rails and trams, is a good start. Then you’ve got to make sure the space is large enough to cater to the audience. If there’s something interesting about the venue, then that’s even better. A business consulting firm recently organised a networking event for sales managers in a Central London art gallery and it proved to be a huge success.
Make it comfortable for attendees
Networking events are organised to help people make connections, and a big part of this help is facilitation – making it easy for people to connect. Nothing kills a networking event more than fixed table seating, crammed spaces, loud music in the background and absence of facilitators. Selecting the right networking format and utilising the right tools makes a huge difference to how comfortable you can make the attendees feel.
Use targeted advertising, PR and social media
Once you’ve finalised the goal, the location and the format of your networking event, it is important to send out invites early, generate pre-event buzz and target the right people. The success of your networking event largely depends on your audience; ensuring you have the right people attending your event is paramount. Leverage your networks, engage key influencers in your industry, and basically use the power of online PR and social media to generate interest and increase participation. Generating event related content that is easy to share online could be a huge value addition.
Make it memorable
Adding a strong takeaway to your networking event will make it memorable for the attendees. Giveaways in the form of commemorative photos and video, useful branded accessories like stationery, USB drives, tote bags and others are an option, but it’s the tactics like unique industry reports, email subscriptions, social media groups, unique hashtags, free subscriptions and memberships that keep the conversation going long after the event.
If you’ve attended a networking event recently and would like to share your experience, tips and comments, please continue the discussion with us on Twitter @EventsGEM.