Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to Create a Successful Networking Event

If you're looking to expand your business network an an entrepreneur, organizing a networking event can help you do just that. Although planning an event can be challenging and time consuming, it is possible. Here are some tips to help:

Think about your audience when scheduling it. 
When the event will be and where are essential considerations to boost attendance. You should also have two goals: what you want to achieve and what you hope your attendees will achieve. All of these things will help you focus your efforts, communicate successfully and provide a great experience for everyone involved.

Make the invitation personal. 
More than likely, the first impression that potential attendees will get about your event will come from your email invitation. Therefore, it has to be engaging. The invitation should look professional and should give the invitee basic information about your event. A few tips include:

  • Invite people who you feel would be most interested in the event.
  • Personalize the invitation by including people's names. 
  • Make sure it is branded with your business logo and colors.
  • Let the invitee know the purpose for and the benefits of coming to the event. 
  • Give clear details about the date, location, costs associated with the event and contact information. 
  • Provide a map (if possible) and driving directions. 

Since sending invitations might not be enough to ensure a "packed house," here are a few suggestions to increase awareness, promote attendance and ultimately fill seats:

  • Create a website about the event. This is a wonderful place to include all the details about the event.
  • Be sure all promotions include your brand, colors and logo. 
  • Is the event open to the public? If so, think about promoting it on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Send reminders leading up to the event (just don't go overboard). 
  • Include an events calendar to publicize upcoming events.
  • Obtain a little more information from invitees to use in future marketing efforts.
  • If there are fees involved, collect during registration. By doing so electronically, you avoid the security risks of handling and storing credit card numbers. Additionally, if people pay when they register, you're getting a solid commitment from those people that they'll be in attendance. 
  • If you're collecting fees, include a refund policy.

Consider post-event activities.
After the event, you'll have the opportunity to make improvements. Post-event activities can disclose useful information about what worked and how you can make the next event better. Some tips:

  • Keep track of those who attended and those who didn't.
  • Send out timely follow-up communication with highlights of the event, photos and overall summary.
  • Do a post-event survey of the attendees to learn about their experiences at the event. 
  • Ask them for ways you can improve your next event. 

With these tips, not only will you look professional, you'll also provide a rewarding experience for yourself and your attendees!

[Photo Credit; Source]

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