Do you feel like you need to develop yourself both personally and professionally? If yes, a networking event can help you achieve that.
It provides a platform for meeting and interacting with like-minded people. If you can’t find the right networking event to attend, start planning your own.
A networking event can open many doors and great opportunities for you and go a long way in helping others.
Planning and hosting successful networking events that add real value to not only you but also your attendees demands a lot of effort.
Here are five tips to help you plan and run a successful networking event.
1. Determine your purpose
A good networking event must have a specific area of focus. Maybe you want to organize a meeting for professionals in your field or an event for entrepreneurs or owners of small enterprises?
Perhaps you want to offer a platform for individuals new to your neighbourhood to interact and establish meaningful friendships. Ensure you come up with a clear purpose for your event.
It’s important to determine the kind of persons you want to invite and how they will benefit from your event. Once you’ve defined the purpose of the event, it will be easy to market it to potential attendees.
For instance, if you’re organizing a network for healthcare professionals, your purpose could be, “an opportunity for general physicians, dentists, surgeons and oncologists to grow their contacts and access professional opportunities.
2. Choose your format and venue wisely
You can make your event as casual as possible, but be sure to choose a format and venue that will suit the needs of your audience.
For instance, if your potential attendees already know each other, a meeting in the bar for a few drinks might be enough to initiate great conversations. But others may require more motivation to mix and interact.
Continuously interacting with people and participating in activities can be exhausting for most people. For this reason, be sure to select a venue that has dedicated spaces where your attendees can catch a breath and relax.
Some hotels offer lounges with comfortable sofas where your guests can sit and chat with each other. Event production agencies can help you pull off successful networking events, including choosing the perfect venue for your guests.
3. Review your budget
You may not be looking to generate profit from your networking event, but it pays to have a good budget in place.
Remember, you need to pay for the venue and drinks. Decide on what you will offer your guests, and then price it up. Once you’ve come up with a budget, you can decide on how you’ll finance it.
You can raise money by selling tickets, using your own savings or seek external funding.
One great way to generate money is by giving local businesses an opportunity to showcase a brief presentation at your event – just make sure it’s relevant to your guests.
Charging a small attendance fee is another good way to raise funds to cover the costs of your event.
It allows you to attach a value to your networking event, which helps others hold it in high regard. Also, it puts you in control of the numbers and minimizes no-shows.
4. Offer your guests tools to prepare ahead
Most participants feel uncomfortable when they have no idea of what to expect from an event.
You can help calm their nerves by providing them with tools to prepare ahead. Ensure they know what to expect from your event and what your networking has to offer.
You don’t have to meet them personally to give them these tools. You just need to facilitate online registration and give attendees easy access to any information they need to know about the event.
5. Make your guests feel special
Create an environment that makes your audience feel special, happy and comfortable to mix and mingle. You can hire an emcee to keep the spirit high throughout the event.
Hire warm and friendly anchors who can ensure every attendee is interacting freely. Besides being great connectors, these anchors should have the capability to listen and show genuine interest in others.
With thoughtful planning and genuine concern for the needs of your attendees, it’s possible to pull off a successful networking event.
You will enhance both your career and business as you help your guests establish meaningful connections along the way.
Rilind Elezaj is a devoted career specialist at Animas Coaching helping people make the right career choice. He usually evaluates the individual’s background, training and education in order to help and develop realistic goals and guide them in choosing a profession or type of degree to be successful.