6 Tips for Making Networking Events More Productive


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How to Create a Successful Networking Event

It’s true – we tend to buy from people we like and trust, which is one of the reasons successful networking is so important to growing your customer base.

Steps

  1. Have a Clear Purpose.Know the purpose of your networking event, and think of it from the angle of everyone involved. For example, if the purpose is for everyone to get more leads or referrals, then consider the best approach to take so that everyone gets what they need.
  2. Set the Scope.By scope, we mean size and industry. How many people will you include in the event? Are you looking to create more of a sit-down environment where people would take turns going around the circle, explaining what they do and what kind of new clients they are in the market for? Or do you envision a large group gathering, with freestyle networking and a massive exchange of business cards. Perhaps a speed networking event is more your style. Are you considering regular monthly gatherings, or just a one-off event? Any of these types of networking events can be highly successful, but when you’ve set the scope, it will help you plan the details accordingly.
  3. Save the Date.If you’re planning a mid-size to large event, you’ll want to give folks a heads-up so they can save the date on their calendar.
  4. Secure a Location.Now that you’ve decided on the purpose, style and scope of your event, the next step is to book a venue, and you’ll want to do this as early as possible.
  5. Spread the Word.It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people start planning an event with the best of intentions, but then it turns out to be a “secret meeting.” In other words, nobody knew about the meeting except for you and a couple of close contacts.
  6. Plan Refreshments Thoughtfully.Remember, this is a networking event, not an entertaining event. People are here to meet and greet and find new business contacts, not to pig out. Keep the refreshments light and easy to eat (a good rule of thumb is: nothing that requires a fork or sticks in your teeth).
  7. Set the Agenda.Here is one possibility: 7:00-7:15pm Meet and greet, 7:15-7:20pm Welcome and introduction, 7:20-8:30pm Each participant gets the floor for 5-7 minutes, round robin style 8:30-9:00pm Freestyle networking.
  8. Facilitate Mingling.The key to any successful event is mingling throughout the group. Whenever you bring together a group of people, there will nearly always be those who mingle easily, working their way through the room and making connections and building rapport, while others are feeling a bit nervous or insecure in a room where they don’t know anyone.
  9. Promote Yourself.Don’t fall into the trap that so many event coordinators find themselves in – just because you’ve coordinated the event, it doesn’t mean you should avoid promoting yourself.
  10. Use a Takeaway.“Out of sight, out of mind” is just human nature, so it’s important to have some kind of takeaway for your participants, otherwise all the time and hard work you’ve put into the event may be for nothing.
  11. Get Feedback.You may think your event was a raving success, but perception is everything, so it’s a good idea to get some feedback from other participants as well.
  12. Follow Up.Follow up with any leads or connections you made, and encourage your fellow participants to do the same. There is a saying, “the fortune is in the followup.” Call your leads and tell them you enjoyed meeting them. Find ways you can help each other’s business. Send referrals and ask for referrals. Be specific about what you need.

Community Q&A

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    Brunch ideas for physicians who want to partner with our practice?
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    Usually, the simple solutions often work best. Just send out invitations, plan a menu and a venue, and have a nice brunch event. There's no need for new and creative ways, never-done-before gadgets or surprising twists.
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    What type of grab and go would you expect to see at a breakfast networking event?
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    Pastries, cups of coffee, sandwiches - simple things to start off your morning.
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  • Create some flyers or handouts to distribute not only to your contacts, but also for your contacts to pass along to their contacts.
  • Creating a networking event should not be for the sole purpose of recruiting new customers from the group – rather, you’ll want to build trust and give people the space to get to know each other.
  • You can facilitate mingling by warmly and gently approaching those who appear a bit “lost” and striking up a conversation. Ask questions about what they do and what kind of characteristics their ideal client would possess, and introduce them to another nearby person (even if you don’t know that person and have to introduce yourself at the same time). Then you can leave these two new connected individuals together so you can repeat the process elsewhere if needed.
  • Don’t worry about over-inviting right now, just get the word out.
  • For larger gatherings where folks will be exiting at different times throughout the event, a “swag bag” or “goody bag” is a great way to provide a takeaway. Many times, insurance agents or other companies may provide the bags (with their advertising info printed on the outside), and you can let participants know ahead of time that they can submit items (advertising specialties, business cards, flyers, coupons, samples, etc.) for the goody bags which will be distributed to participants.
  • If you’re intending to create regular networking meetings, you would also want to let everyone know the date and location of the next meeting, so they can mark it on their calendar.
  • Alternatively, for a larger event, you may choose to have refreshments provided by a sponsor or local company (or food vendor).
  • Even if your event uses freestyle networking only, you would want to make an announcement about 30 minutes into the event, to introduce yourself, thank everyone for coming, thank the sponsor for providing the food and drink, and encourage everyone to mingle.
  • Alternatively, if you need audiovisuals, you might secure the banquet room of a restaurant, a hotel meeting room, or local meeting facilities in your community, such as a library (some public libraries have rooms that are perfect for such a gathering) or neighborhood clubhouse (if you live in the community and pay HOA dues, your cost for reserving a facility may be lower than you think).
  • The purpose of your event may simply be to help everyone expand their network of contacts – whatever purpose you have in mind, allow that to be the guiding force behind decisions you make with regards to the logistics of the event.
  • Most people will do nothing more than nibble, so keep the snacks simple: water and coffee, crackers and cheese, perhaps a bit of fruit. This expense should be minimal.
  • With a small, intimate gathering, you can conclude the evening with a sentiment such as this: “I’d like to thank everyone for coming tonight and for sharing your vision with us. As you’re out and about in life, please think of this group and make referrals as often as you see fit, remembering that whatever you send out always comes back to you in abundance. I’d like to thank our sponsor, _________ (if you had no sponsor, then mention your company, since you put the time, money and effort into coordinating the event) for keeping this event free and accessible. And I’d like to remind you to follow up and take action – keep in touch with each other and with me, let us know how you’re doing and whether our referrals are successful. Thank you and good night.”
  • If your event is open to the public, be sure to add your event to location-specific sites like Meetup.com.
  • You might initiate individual conversations, email out a quick online survey or simply ask around. Be sure to ask for specific feedback with regards to ways a future event could be improved.
  • If you find you’re having a very high number of commitments and approaching maximum capacity, then you can ease off the inviting for a bit.
  • Depending on the size of your event, you may also want to purchase targeted Facebook pay-per-click ads or post flyers around the area.
  • Ways you can promote yourself:- create “swag” bags to give to each attendee and include information about your business- give each attendee a flyer on their way out of the event- if it’s a large gathering and you’re planning to make announcements, include a mention of your product or services- pass out your cards.
  • Looking to keep your event low-cost (or free)? Smaller groups can gather at your home (or someone else’s home), or perhaps at a restaurant or coffee shop or gelateria.
  • Your second tip goes here. Add as many tip bullets as you need.




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Date: 06.12.2018, 02:00 / Views: 45361