10 steps to a Successful Business Networking Event
I am sure that many of you participated to a wide range of events and noticed some good or bad practices. I have recently been involved in organizing a business networking event for Avangate US office, so I put a lot of thought in it and also gained access to all stages of business event organizing, including feedback from participants.
In this post I will share some ideas from my experience as a business developer – ideas that work for a great networking event; in fact I think that these are the most important steps that must be completed to achieve the success and reputation you are targeting by organizing the event.
- Have a self-explanatory name
- Publish a dedicated landing page
- Make sure that I have all the tools to connect with everybody
- Event coordinates
- Welcome note – first impression sets the mood
- Networking elements
- Interaction points
- Say loud and clear the event conclusions and next steps
- Send THE follow-up note
Here in Silicon Valley there are tens of events daily. For the audience is quite difficult or time consuming to identify the right events if they are called like “Technology tools” or “International roundtable”; technology for what? Roundtable of whom? That’s why some events have audience and others have not.
I am a business developer for an e-commerce company. What do you think that I will click between “Technology tools” and “E-commerce trends for software industry”?
After you got my first click, you have maximum 10 seconds to convince me that the event is worthy of my time. Make sure that I see who is hosting the event (who are you), the purpose of the event, the targeted audience and the date and location, of course.
A very important step will be to give me the tools I need. Maybe I need to recommend the event to someone – give me the tool; maybe I decided already and I need to put it in my calendar – give me the tool.
Who confirmed already? Publish their profiles (if available) and put me in contact with them. Don’t forget even one second that my goal is to get in touch with other people! Subscribe me to your mailing list, let me follow you on Twitter etc.
Make sure that I have a map of the location and instructions how to get there, where to park etc. In case you are targeting audience from a larger geographical area, make sure that you also recommend hotels and restaurant to make me a pleasant stay.
People are very busy these days. Make sure that you send at least 2 or 3 reminders about the event; the last one should be in the same day with the event. You will be amazed how many events get back their customers using the same day reminder.
OK, I just arrived to your event. Make sure that someone says hello to me, give me the welcome kit (if available) and make a 5 seconds presentation of the event. The first impression is very important as it sets the mood of each participant.
Even more, if you know a little bit about me and you will also recommend me some people that I might want to meet at your event, then definitely you win a friend and a promoter for your featured events.
It is mandatory to invest in some badges that will be printed with your guest names and companies. During any networking event you will notice that the badges are like beautiful women: they get everybody’s attention!
Many events are offering 10 minutes for presentations, when people say who they are and what companies are representing. I love that part! I can make my notes and prepare the strategy. I have only two hours and I cannot afford to waste them by only by looking for potential partners, right?
After the fist networking part when everybody is getting drinks and walks around, please stand up and have a short welcome speech to mark the “official start” of the event. Mentally, your guests need a reason to start the “real talks”. The same thing should happen when the food is ready or when a short presentation will take place. Sometimes I need a reason to move from one group of people to another – “Oh, I will have some chicken”.
At the end of the event, stand up again and thank everybody for their time. Make sure that you will have their business cards and inform them about next actions you will take (newsletters, next events etc).
Now it’s time to get your bonus. You have their business cards and their attention (because you made a good job at the event, right?) – send a follow-up note and make sure that you will highlight the benefits and the opportunities you have together. At the end of the day it is a small world where everybody knows everybody.
P.S. If you reached this point it means that you read the entire post; I thank you for that! Let’s stay connected and share some other ideas in the feature: follow me on Twitter and check out my LinkedIn Profile.