Creating A Business Networking Event

Aug 31, 2010

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The Twelve Step Program… Creating an Event worth drinking to!

Business events serve many a purpose; it could be to celebrate a business milestone, welcome new staff, launch a sale or simply spread some good will. Whatever the occasion, when you can’t afford an event planner and publicist, there are 12 simple steps to make sure your event is memorable and successful.
business people networking

  1. What’s the point?
  2. Every business decision you make should be outcome oriented, this is no different. You are potentially spending thousands of dollars to ensure your guests have a good time, but why? What’s the point? Your event must have a goal and a measurable outcome. This means that when it comes time to receive client evaluations and do follow ups, you’ll know if you won or lost. Work out the mission statement of the whole project, it will assist you to complete the following 11 steps more meaningfully. Get this step right and you’re more than halfway to a successful event.
  3. We might invite…
  4. Who should you invite? There are key stakeholders who will need to be present. Go back to step one, and work out who is going to help you achieve your goal. Always, always, always invite media; this might simply be the advertising representative you have a relationship with, or it could be the editor, marketing or general manger. Defining your guest list with step one in mind will also help you whittle down those few potentials that you um and ah about.
  5. Inspire them to attend
  6. When planning your event, don’t simply invite your guests to attend; INSPIRE them to attend! More than likely, each of your guests is sacrificing something to be with you; it might work time, leisure time, family time or down time. And, guess what? Yours isn’t the only the only event they’ll be invited to this season, even this month. Remember this and make your invitations stand out, give them EVERY piece of information you can think of (public transport options, directions, accommodation nearby etc), this will help to remove the ‘too hard’ factor. Lastly, offer a real person to accept RSVPs, a generic email location is too impersonal especially when compared to the ease of connectivity via social media. This extra detail will go a long way in reducing no shows on the night.
  7. Location, location, location
  8. The event venue is vitally important. Everyone has been to a function room or wine bar, so take them somewhere they haven’t been. A car dealership might have their event in the workshop rather than the showroom. A florist might opt for a flower farm rather than a bland space. Think outside the square, take them on a journey, excite them. Repay their interest in your business with real thought.
  9. Fuel for thought
  10. Feed them. And feed them as well and as often as the budget allows. This is one area you can’t afford to skimp on. They won’t remember the food being decent, but they’ll remember it being terrible. Surprisingly, this is more important than whatever beverage you’re offering.
  11. Abra cadabra…
  12. Surprise your audience. You might hire a roving comedian or simply release a new product at the event. Whatever your budget allows, keep an ace up your sleeve.
  13. Practice makes perfect
  14. Run a rehearsal. Even if your event is simply being held at your premises you can have a run through. Walk through the front entrance and look around you as though you’re here for the first time. Attend to that crooked poster and that tiny spider’s web. Get second opinions on everything, ask not for thoughts, but for first impressions from your wife, neighbour, gym partner, whoever, but do ask.
  15. Don’t leave it to chance
  16. Preparation is the key to many things, especially events. Have extra name badges on hand in case Mr Smith actually turns up with Ms Jones instead of Mrs Smith. In short, put time into preparing a plan B for every step of the event, and create a running sheet that all staff or providers can be aware of. Communicate with everyone from the sound guy to the bus driver; don’t give them any opportunity to roll their eyes in your direction when you ask for a small favour.
  17. Don’t worry, be happy…
  18. Relax! At this point, everyone is in attendance and your job now is to play host. Walking around hurriedly with a clipboard doesn’t make you look important, it makes you look unapproachable and disorganised. Smile, have a good time, look like you’re having fun, set the tempo. Do not get drunk, and try and at least acknowledge every guest by name – what’s the point inviting them if you’re too busy to talk to them?
  19. Did you win?
  20. Time to evaluate your goals from step one. Were your goals met, was the mission statement fulfilled? Spend time on evaluation, it will help you justify the money you just spent and give you a good idea of where to start next time.
  21. Stay in touch
  22. Regardless of your outcome, follow up, follow up, follow up! Thank them for their time, genuinely. A group photo taken on the night and posted out with a very short thank you from you, the host will go much further than a sticky pad with your logo on it handed out on the night. Events can be forgotten very quickly, don’t let yours be just another party.
  23. Let’s do it again!
  24. Yes, lets. But remember; no two audiences are ever the same, even if the event is recurring. Always return to steps one and two regularly throughout your event planning process. Susan Long is a Marketing Consultant who likes a challenge. Her next big event is showing the world Cool Pencil Cases, pencils and accessories, with a glass of wine and some nibbles, of course!

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