Planning the perfect networking event

When your company has to put on a networking event to further client connections, the pressure pedal is pressed down – hard. Pulling together an event is hard enough in all the details, but when your business is relying on an event for success, it’s even harder and the stress piles on. You need to be able to create an experience for people that makes them feel invigorated and happy when they walk into the room. You want to smash that ‘wow’ factor the moment that guests walk through the door and to be able to achieve this, you need to spend time carefully planning. You need to learn what will set your event apart from everyone else’s and drive that buzz so that people have big expectations that you can meet from the moment that they walk in the door.

The biggest mistake that most people make when it comes to event planning is failing to strategize and plan correctly. You need to determine your reason for the event in the first place, as this will dictate how you throw your event. You don’t necessarily need to throw an event reminiscent of the latest Hollywood blockbuster premiere, but you do need to have an entrance made for your event so that people want to be there. Extravagance can come in the form of anything; drinks and blinis on arrival, dry ice for effect and even the DJ that you hire for music. There are many decisions that you need to make to make an impact, but you have to strategize. Once you’ve decided what your event is for, you can then move forward with the plans and a budget.

Reviewing your budget is going to be a huge factor when it comes to it, because you can’t throw an effective event if you don’t have the money for it! It’s good to decide a budget early on, because you’re going to work your entire event around the budget. It doesn’t matter whether your company is large or small, your budget has to be appropriate for the event itself. You’ll spend a lot less on a dinner than you would on a huge evening bash but deciding the budget ahead of time is going to be crucial. Always be open to over-ordering drinks or food, too, because your event could prove extremely popular and you may end up with more guests than you had anticipated.

When you take on the planning of an event, you need to maximise your exposure. Marketing and PR are crucial here and you need to plan your advertising for the event to get to the right people. If you have a specific set of clients that you want to invite to your event, then marketing it to them directly in the form of a direct invitation is personal and appropriate. However, if your event is purely for marketing your business a little more than usual, then you need to up your social media game. Get into the public eye and get seen, because the more interest that you can drum up, the better exposure your business can get. Have your marketing team draw up a press release for the local newspaper and radio so that you can get your name out there and get the entire event in the air.

You should aim for your event to be a full experience. Think of all the events that you’ve been to before and make a list of the things that you hated about your previous experiences. While you’re planning each aspect of your personal event, avoid those things that you didn’t like. The guests will decide whether the event is worth it from the second that they walk in the door, and you want that first impression to hold enough weight to have people knocking down your door afterwards. Open bar, entertainment and even the favours on the tables are all going to count toward the final experience that people have. Treat people well, and you can ensure that you are a talking point long after the event has ended.

The last thing that you need to think about is the loot bags that you hand out at the end. You’ve already done everything that you can for invites, favours, entertainment and food, and the last thing is the goody bag at the end of the event. Make sure that almost everything in the bag has your company name on it, so that people will remember you. Your event can come off perfectly now that you know how!

 

Photo by Adam Solomon

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