They say that if you are not networking, you are not working. We cannot stress enough how much networking helps build business relationships and pave way for prospective opportunities for organizations and professionals to grow. While networking as a skill can oscillate between being easy and challenging depending on the person. Running a successful networking event comes with an interesting set of challenges and must-dos. We’re taking a look at a few of them…
A definitive purpose
First things first, your networking event needs to have a clear-cut objective. It can be about creating awareness, celebrating a landmark, recruitment, raising funds or simply an occasion for industry professionals to meet and greet. Outlining the purpose of your networking event helps in setting your target audience and the suitable promotional activities required for the same. Yes, your networking event’s purpose is indeed its very own framework.
Budgeting done right
If the purpose of your event serves as its framework, the budget is the foundation on which the rest of the event is built. Not all networking events aim at profit generation, but that shouldn’t stop you from setting a reasonable fare for attendance registration. Ticket sales is also a direct indicator of insightful data about your event performance and interest generation. Needless to mention, venue rentals and refreshments are not to be compromised with while outlining your budget as these can directly affect the success of your event. Your organization’s budget also helps you in choosing prospective sponsors as well as giving a potential platform for other businesses to host and promote themselves.
Know your target
Participation is the lifeline of any networking event. Thus, setting and targeting relevant audience based on demographics like age, professional backgrounds, gender and the like, is a must-do. At the end of the day, the success of any networking event will be determined by how worthwhile it was for the participants to meet and engage in mutually enriching conversations with other like-minded invitees. Remember, quality over quantity is your mantra when it comes to target audience selection for a successful networking event.
Finding your format
The structure of a networking event should be somewhere between not being too rigid and not too flexible. In other words, you need to assess what works best for the invitees and keep the ball rolling. If we are looking at a scenario where the invitees already know each other, a casual setting in a pub can set the right tone for re-acquaintance and conversations. If your guest list is relatively small, intimate sit-down sessions are recommended. Speed networking is your answer to scheduling and wrapping up a crisp yet effective interaction among your invitees, especially in an event which has other areas of focus to cover alongside. Some networking events are centered around a casual activity like hiking or a more sober scenario like professional workshops.
Buzzing it up
No amount of promotion and hype is ever good enough for an event and the same goes for a networking event too. Starting early is key here. With the dynamics of marketing and advertising communication swiftly changing from offline to online media, we recommend social media as your best bet to kick off promotional activities. From creating an event page on Facebook to making the best use of LinkedIn to create awareness as well as connect with the right people for your audience list, networking events can gain impressive mileage online. Paid search on Google as well as blogs for that extra PR outreach are good options too. The bigger the event, the better your chances are at scouting for potential sponsors and commercial partners for further promoting your event.
Facilitating and sustaining engaging conversations at your networking event is your secret formula to success. A simple yet effective personal meet-and-greet to each and every invitee followed by a quick identification of their backgrounds and areas of interest is good for a start. Follow that up with helping them meet others who share similar backgrounds and areas of interests. Mandatory name tags at the venue entrance as well as well as a pre-prepared guest list which can be made accessible to all the invitees are also essential in bringing your audience closer and ensuring that they interact.
Following up for a brighter future
Networking events are also about creating a lasting sense of recall among the guests to add to your brand value and awareness. Transform and sustain the on-ground networking by taking it online post the event, to retain and engage your audience. Social media can come to your rescue again via groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Post-event surveys and emailers also ensure a desirable level of courtesy and goodwill. More importantly, it makes your audience feel important enough to return for many more of your successful networking events.