Networking is key for any successful business person, and hosting a networking event is a great way to get professionals together in a fun, productive environment. Read on for eight tips on hosting a memorable networking event.
1.Keep Sign Up Simple- We’ve all been there. You’re ready to sign up for an event, you click on the web site… and it’s so complicated that you decided to just throw in the towel. This is the last thing you want for your event attendees! Sign up, whether online or over the phone, needs to be simple and involve as few steps as possible. Consider hiring an intern to handle the RSVP process, or use a site like EventBrite to manage who is coming and who has declined.
2.Think It Through– Months before your event, sit down with your team and talk through every detail, from potential speakers to ice for the bar to seating arrangements. The more you think through in advance, the less you leave to chance on the night of the event. It’s important that you don’t do this alone- more eyes on the process leaves less room for error.
3. Allow Attendees to View The Guest List– One of the biggest factors in determining whether or not someone will attend an event is who else is going to be there. Allow your attendees to view the guest list for the event before they register. This can be done by keeping track of people who have RSVP’d “yes” on a public Google form. Note: You won’t want to make this form public until you already have a crowd of 20 or so people signed up for your event.
4.Recruit Anchors– While social interaction is a spectrum, there are two extremes in every room. There’s the social butterfly who flutters around the room, happy to talk to anyone and everyone, and there’s the wallflower who stands in the corner, anxious and waiting for someone else to strike up a conversation with them. Find some people who are a happy medium between the two, and ask them to act as your “anchors.” These people will make a point to strike up conversation with anyone who feels left out and is spending more time staring at their phone than making conversation with others. Anchors are key to make sure that everyone at your event feels included and enjoys themselves.
5. Make The Location Fun– You’ll want to choose an event venue that people will be excited about! Think professional, but fun. Great restaurants, bars, sporting events, and evening cruises can all provide terrific opportunities for hosting network events. Check out www.twinscitiescruises.com for the opportunity to take your networking event out on the water.
6. Be A Connector– During registration on the night of the event, make conversation with your attendees, and recommend connections where appropriate. This will serve a few purposes: your attendees will feel useful from the moment they walk through the door, and they’ll walk into the venue with the purpose of seeking out your recommendation so they can start a conversation. After registration, walk around the event to introduce people to each other and start conversations.
7. Keep Your Cool– When something goes wrong the night of the event, know two things: 1) It’s likely that no one else will notice, and 2) It’s a learning experience for next time. Take a deep breath, do what you can to remedy the situation, and move forward.
8. Follow Up– When the night is over, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief- but your work isn’t completely finished yet! After the event, follow up with people who attended to find out what they enjoyed about the event, who they connected with, and what could have been better for next time. Doing so shows that you care about your attendees and makes them more likely to attend your next event.