How To Make Your Networking Event Work
For a lot of us, the word networking brings us out in a cold sweat – the idea of walking into a room full of strangers, engaging with them about ourselves and our business whilst being friendly, funny and memorable is too much to take!
Everybody has a networking nightmare story where they’ve just wanted the ground to swallow them up or fake serious illness just to be able to leave and what doesn’t help is that (not mentioning any names) a lot of networking events are, well, rather dull.
But when a networking event is run well, attending it can seriously impact your business, your reputation and your contacts. And if you don’t know of one that you like and enjoy, there’s always the option of starting one yourself.
Here are my professional tips on how to make your networking event memorable:
Have an engaging venue
Introducing people to a venue that they haven’t been to or heard of before is a great way to entice people to an event as a lot of the time, people are intrigued to attend and see the space – the more exclusive the better. So, if you can host your event at a private members club or a room in a venue, that will add to the appeal. Also make it easy to get to – don’t give anyone the excuse not to come.
Have food and drink
This may sound obvious, but I have been to so many networking events straight after a full day at work and they don’t even offer you some crisps! People are happy when they are fed and watered so make sure they get that and if you’re feeling creative, offer drinks and snacks in line with your brand – this will make another memorable element to your event.
Sort the tech out
Again, there are so many events out there where the tech is either non-existent or just doesn’t work and the people running the event are left flapping and red-faced trying to sort it. If you are using slides, having speakers use microphones or just advertising the social handles for your event, make sure you test the tech first – go into the venue either early or on a previous day to see how it works and if you don’t understand it, make sure someone is there on the night that does and can look after that side.
Know your audience
Along with the above, the key to a successful event is having the right people in the room. And getting the right people first starts with knowing who your target audience is and why. Are you going after top business professionals or sole traders who are just starting out, a mixture of both? Are you after specific criteria: gender, age, interest, earnings etc? Knowing your audience impacts the whole event and engages with the right people to attend and mix which is a win/win for everyone.
Add the magic
Have a think to yourself – what is going to make your event memorable? What will people take away and, importantly, come back for? Is it the people you have introduced them to, is it a certain speaker that ignited an idea or is it some fabulous cocktail specifically designed for your event or all of the above?