Networking events are a great way to get your face out there in business. You can meet potential contacts, customers or people to do business with, but finding the right network event to attend is important. What if there isn’t a suitable event in your local area? If you can’t find the sort of event you want to attend, why not host one yourself? Here’s some top tips to host a networking event.
Decide on a purpose. What is the event for? Do you want to offer a networking opportunity for your industry alone, or for any business in your local area? Is it for young professionals, for women in business or anybody? Is it to find customers, business contacts or meet new friends?
Set a format. Networking comes in many forms. Will it be casual, self-lef networking over a drink? Is it a business coffee morning? Will there be stands from traders, or a speaker? You could try speed networking, set up like speed dating, where attendees chat for a few minutes before swapping to a new person to talk to.
Set a budget. Are you being frugal and looking to use a free room in a bar on the expectation that your attendees will buy drinks, or are you going all out with a large venue and refreshments provided? Either option can work, so set a budget and stick to it. For an in between measure, you could offer a welcome drink on arrival, using drinks tokens from https://www.tokensfor.com/ and then ask people to buy their own.
Choose a venue. Are you asking people to a community hall or pub back room? Do you have a space in your own office that could host a large group? What about an art gallery or exhibition space for something a bit more striking? Negotiate with your venue and see if you can arrange a discount space in exchange for bringing so many businesses to their space.
What time? For busy professionals, a breakfast meeting might work best, so they don’t lose time from their working day. If you’re targeting younger people, maybe an evening event over drinks would be more attractive. Remember people have to travel to and from your event, so don’t start too early or end too late.
Promote your event. There’s no point networking if nobody attends. Promote your event with your current network; include event details in any newsletters you send out, promote on social media and add the date to your email signature. Push your event on LinkedIn and set up an event page on Facebook. A ticketing service, even if you don’t charge for them, can also help advertise your event.
Offer value. As event host, make sure you speak to everyone as they arrive. Try and introduce people to useful contacts to help them get something out of your event so they’ll want to attend next time. Over value with a good speaker or presentation, so attendees feel they’ve learned some useful tips.