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Getting the Most Bang from a Networking Event

How to Plan and Conduct a Networking Event - Part 1

Ever thought about hosting your own networking event and promoting your business at the same time? Ah ha what a wonderful idea - you could invite non-competing business associates, other entrepreneurs, etc., and tell them to bring a friend.

I'm an introvert. Is it really that simple? It could be, but if you are too bashful to take the lead, ask an outgoing, non-competing business acquaintance to joint sponsor the event. Share the work and share the reward.

Action Items:

Preliminary Planning

  • Set a date
  • Select and reserve a facility. It could be a local restaurant, club, meeting room library, community center, etc.
  • Ensure the area has adequate parking.
  • Develop a preliminary guest list. Tell your guests to bring a friend.
  • Determine your budget based on estimated costs of food, mailings (if applicable, etc.)
  • Determine if the event will be "free" or if you will charge a "minimal" fee to cover expenses.
  • Finalize men.
  • Decide if you will have a speaker, or allow brief presentations by participants. Naturally, plan to take a few moments to introduce yourself and your business.
  • Make a site visit and meet with your sales representative about room setup A/V needs, etc. (if applicable).
  • Plan a "datesaver" letter, postcard or appropriate email communique.
  • Invite guests.

1 Week Before the Event

  • Print appropriate quantities of your company materials. Remember, the purpose is to promote your business.
  • Stuff registration packets (if any).
  • Print name tags and double-check spelling of all names.
  • Notify caterer of counts and if they are significantly lower or higher than initially expected (if applicable).

Event Day

  • Arrive early, making sure all arrangements are in place and station yourself at the front door.
  • Meet and greet your guests.
  • Provide a sign-in sheet or method to capture contact information, i.e. prize drawings raffle etc. Don't forget to request that all-important email address, so you can have an inexpensive means to communicate later.
  • Relax and smile.
  • Never tell "war stories" to your guests or intimate that things might be less than perfect. Chances are no one but you will notice any mistakes.
  • Mingle and enjoy the event.

After the Event

  • Close the books - pay all bills.
  • Send thank-you notes to all the attendees. (Great time to implement the Keep Clients Program).
  • Compile and review evaluation results, if applicable.

This event is your opportunity to make new business acquaintances and influence people. Now that it's all planned, enjoy the networking and meet your ideal client.

Sharon Williams

©Sharon Williams. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Sharon Williams, MVA, PREVA, is president of The 24 Hour Secretary and provides administrative, secretarial, marketing and internet-based virtual support for successful but sometimes overwhelmed executives and entrepreneurs. Subscribe to Smart Business = Success, the free monthly ezine stocked with business tips for the busy professional. Contact Sharon by email.

You have permission to reprint this article electronically or in print, as long as the text and byline remain unedited. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.

Link to Getting the Most Bank from a Networking Event - Part 1

How to Plan and Conduct a Networking Event

If you feel this article has been helpful to you and that it may also be beneficial to others, please consider adding it as a resource link on your website, Ezine, or blog!

Getting the Most Bang from a Networking Event - Ever thought about hosting your own networking event and promoting your business at the same time? Part 1 of this series describes the nuts and bolts of planning a networking event.