As college students and recent grads we were told to “network, network, and network some more.” But, after settling into careers, finding jobs and starting businesses, we often forget why it’s so important. For starters, it is a great way to bring in new customers and future employees.
Here are just a few ways to put your company’s best foot forward and stay relevant in your community.
Have a Vision
The first thing you should do when you start planning is to think about what you want your networking event to accomplish. Who do you want to bring together? Your networking event could be focused on women in the workplace, young adults new to the workforce, or small business owners in your community. The best way to get people to your event is to attract a specific audience. Guests will show up if they know they will have beneficial conversations with people who can relate to them. If it is a free-for-all event with no vision, it’s going to be hard to get people there.
Advertising is one of the most important parts of the planning process. If people don’t know about your event, they won’t be able to come! Event promotion can be different than the marketing strategy you use to market your own business. It is important to promote your networking event where your intended audience will see it.
- Post to your social media and include a link back to your website where guests can RSVP
- Publish the event information on your website with your contact and registration information
- Include promotional graphics in your company’s weekly/monthly newsletter
- Reach out to community business organizations like your local chamber of commerce to promote your event to their members
- Create fliers to put up around town or in significant business buildings
- Boost posts on social media (if you have the budget)
- Create an invitation for guests you want to personally invite
These are just a few tips to help you attract as many guests as possible. Working with a local advertising agency can also help you find creative ways to connect with people about your event.
Book a Venue that Facilitates Conversation
When looking for the perfect venue to host your event, remember that networking is all about conversations. That being said, make sure your event space is arranged to facilitate those conversations. Small, high-top tables people can gather around are better than a lot of long tables. Make sure your venue is clean and inviting. Play soft background music to alleviate any downtime between speakers that may occur. Ensure that there is plenty of comfortable seating so that your guests can sit back, relax and enjoy their conversations.
Determine a Time and Day
Everyone attending your event will be busy. Realistically, it will be impossible to choose a time that works for everyone on your invite list. However, it is good to keep in mind some of these tips for choosing the best time to hold your event to ensure maximum attendance:
- Think about your audience
- If your guests are professionals with busy schedules, a breakfast option may work better
- If your guests are young, maybe they would prefer an event with drinks after work
- Think about childcare commitments
- Don’t plan on long weekends or holidays
Keeping these tips in mind will help you to select the best time of day to host your event.
One of the most important parts of any good networking event is the follow-up. Collect your guest’s names and contact information at the event so you can stay in touch with them. They could be potential new employees and customers, so making them feel appreciated and asking for their feedback is so important. You may want to create an online group on Facebook or LinkedIn to continue the conversations after your event. Or, if this applies to your business, you could send a free gift to those who attended to give them an extra positive impression about your company.
Networking events can be a great way to connect with professionals in your area and a great marketing tool for your business to continue to grow and stay relevant in the community. Consider partnering with a public relations agency to help coordinate your event if you’re short on time and resources. Keeping these tips in mind will help you plan an event that is sure to impress. Happy promoting!