How to Host – 5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Networking Event
Networking events can be beneficial for entrepreneurs, managers, and business owners alike. They strengthen business connections, help you advance your career, and even allow you to access career advice and support.
However, hosting a networking event can be challenging, especially if you have never planned one before. If you want to improve your chances of success, consider some of the tips and tricks below.
Have Ice-Breakers Up Your Sleeve
In the early stages of any networking event, it’s common for there to be some awkwardness. This isn’t always avoidable, but you can plan for it so that everyone in attendance quickly becomes as comfortable as possible.
You might decide to hold ice-breaker networking exercises or hand out corporate promotional products with your branding or the branding of the particular networking event if it’s one that’s held regularly.
Knowing how to help everyone feel comfortable can be how you host a successful networking event that many people want to attend.
Create an Open Space
Some networking events are held over breakfast or lunch, but others are between those mealtimes. If you’re only serving light refreshments rather than full meals, keep the number of chairs and tables to a minimum.
Keep your networking space open and sparse so that everyone has a chance to move around, form groups, and mingle. If you add too many chairs, there’s a chance that people will gravitate toward these and not make the most of their networking opportunity.
Business professionals are busy people, with the majority of business owners working over 50 hours a week. If you want to see high numbers at your networking event, plan them well in advance.
Offer at least one or two months’ notice, and set up registration forms with email reminders. This allows everyone to add your event to their calendar and receive a reminder in the days before it takes place. By requiring them to RSVP to this calendar event, you have a better chance of getting attendees to commit to coming.
Bring Connectors to Your Event
Connectors are people who have been part of your local business community for a long time and who know everyone and what each person does. They can be some of your most valuable guests if you encourage them to connect those who may be new to networking with the regulars who love to mingle.
Connectors will find those lost-looking participants, learn about their industry, and introduce them to people who may work in a similar or complementary industry. Fortunately, networking events generally have at least one or two people willing to help make everyone feel welcome.
Keep Your Speech Brief
At the beginning of most networking events, there’s a welcoming speech to officially announce the start of the event. While some networking events and conferences have key speakers, remember the goal of the event is to network.
Keep public speaking to a minimum, with just five minutes dedicated to welcoming everyone at the beginning and five minutes to conclude at the end. If you have anything special you want to touch on, keep it short or mention it to attendees as you work the room.
Many things can contribute to a successful networking event, whether you’ve held just a few or dozens before. Book an open space, have plenty of ice-breakers up your sleeve, and get as many people involved as possible. After just one successful event, you may find that more attendees will be willing to return for the next one.