NETWORKING EVENTS – PLAN AND PREPARE
What is a networking event?
Professionals who want to talk, interact, and forge new connections gather at networking events.
Events for networking may be held for personnel in a particular profession or sector. Some might have a wider scope, like all professionals interested in marketing strategies.
Networking events can also vary in their structure. Some might permit casual interaction between participants, allowing them to meet others as they please. An activity, like a presentation, or a way to give people a structured way to meet each other could be the focal point of other networking events.
12 tips for planning a networking event
Here are some tips for successfully organizing a networking event:
Define the purpose
Your networking event’s audience, structure, and other essential elements can be determined by its clear purpose. More participants may sign up and participate if there is a clear objective because they can see how the event will benefit them personally or professionally.
A networking events purpose might be to:
In some networking events, two or more of these goals may be combined. For instance, you could organize a networking event to benefit a nearby nonprofit.
Determine your target audience
Knowing your target audience helps you choose the event’s format and market to the appropriate demographic.
Some networking events may have fairly obvious target audiences. For instance, you would advertise your event to that group if its goal was to connect Chicago’s medical professionals.
Some target audiences may take more effort to figure out. For instance, if you’re hosting a workshop, you might need to find out who might be interested in coming.
Pick a format
A networking event that includes a workshop or lecture already has some structure. However, the majority of networking events demand that the host choose the format and scope in advance.
The best format for your event can be chosen if you are aware of your target audience. If attendees are likely to be familiar with one another, for instance, you might host a more relaxed event where attendees are free to converse and interact. You might add time for speed networking if the event is bigger, giving participants a set amount of time to introduce themselves to one person at a time.
Find and secure a venue
Choose a venue that fits your meetings purpose and format. An excellent location for small to medium-sized networking events with a casual format could be a bar or hotel lobby. Consider renting a convention center or community hall with sound and projection capabilities if you’re hosting a workshop or lecture. To ensure you have the space you need for your event, reserve your location in advance.
Choose your video conferencing software carefully based on the requirements of your virtual event if you’re hosting one. Choose a platform that allows you to create smaller video chats or breakout rooms within the larger call if you want to break up the participants into smaller groups. Select software that enables easy screen sharing if the networking event involves showing slides or videos.
Set a date in advance
Setting a date in advance ensures that the venue of your choice is available. It also reduces the likelihood of scheduling conflicts for your participants.
Create a budget
Knowing what costs you need to cover and how much you can cut back on by creating at least a rough budget for your event Depending on your networking event, specific budget items might change, but the following are some things to consider:
Choosing how to pay for your networking event is a decision that goes into your budget. You may seek donations or sponsors if you want to keep the cost low or free for participants. You can also charge attendees through entry or refreshment tickets.
Send out an agenda
Make an agenda for the event and distribute it to attendees in advance. Participants need to be aware of certain information in advance, such as when check-in begins, regardless of whether your event is structured or more relaxed.
Determine the approximate duration of activities such as speed networking or the lecture if you are organizing a more structured event.
If your event is in person, attendees may need details about parking, directions, and coat check locations. If your event is virtual, explain how attendees can access the video conferencing platform and whether they must first download any necessary software.
Promote your event
Based on your target market, spending limit, and type of event, choose your marketing channels. For a local professional event, for instance, print marketing channels might be more successful than social media marketing for a virtual event. Here are some ways to market your event:
Register participants in advance
Having preregistered participants makes it easier to organize the logistics, such as how many chairs and how much food to order. You might need to restrict the number of attendees depending on your event’s type and the size of the venue.
Professionals can connect at a great networking event, but some people might need assistance in approaching one another. Plan some strategies to encourage these interactions both before and during the event, such as:
Provide food and drinks
Many networking events provide food and beverages. Although typically free, you could charge for drinks and more substantial food separately.
Consider posting a recipe for a special event refreshment that attendees can make themselves if your event is online. You could even have a designated breakout room or a portion of the agenda that participants prepare together.
Follow up with participants
To find out what they thought of the event, check in with your attendees at the conclusion or the day after. You can solicit general comments or ask participants to complete a survey. If you intend to host more networking events, think about setting up a private directory or social media page where attendees can connect with each other and you.
How do you plan a networking event?
- Define the purpose. …
- Determine your target audience. …
- Pick a format. …
- Find and secure a venue. …
- Set a date in advance. …
- Create a budget. …
- Send out an agenda. …
- Promote your event.
How do you lead a networking event?
- Step 1: Focus on a Narrow Niche. …
- Step 2: Choose the Right Format for Your Audience. …
- Step 3: Devise a Responsible Budget. …
- Step 4: Use Targeted Promotions. …
- Step 5: Use a Custom Event App. …
- Step 6: Prepare Your Guests. …
- Step 7: Recruit Anchors to Engage People. …
- Step 8: Meet Every Guest.