It’s true – we usually buy from people who we like and trust, so successful networking – creating business contacts – is an important part of expanding our customer base.
Define a goal for your event
Determine the goal you want to achieve by organizing your event, and think about it from the perspective of everyone you invite. For example, if the goal of your event is to find potential customers or receive recommendations, then you need to come up with an approach in which everybody gets what they are looking for.
The same goes for other types of networking events, some even arrange networking events for single entrepreneurs. If you decide to arrange such an event, then you can present them with some relevant information, for example, the best ideas and ways to propose.
Define a framework
It is about the size and industry of your event. How many participants will be there at your event? Are you going to organize an event where people will sit down and take turns telling others about their business, what they offer and which clients they can be useful for? Or do you intend to assemble a large scale group where people themselves will communicate and exchange their information? Perhaps you prefer a fast-paced style of networking events where people take turns communicating “in a circle.” How often will meetings be held – once a month or do you want to organize a single event?
Reserve a date
If you are planning an event of medium or large sizes, you should let all people involved in it know so that they can reserve this date on the calendar.
Reserve a room
Now that you know the goal, style, and scope of your event, now you have to reserve a room, which should be done as soon as possible.
Plan your catering
Remember that this is a networking event for establishing business contacts and not for entertainment. People will come in order to establish business contacts and meet potential customers or to find the suppliers of goods and services they need and not to eat. It is best to limit your food to options that are light and casual (a good rule is to have only food that does not require a fork and won’t get stuck in your teeth).
Do all the necessary preparation
Let potential participants know what they can expect. For instance, if you have a small-time event at someone’s place in mind, you can tell the invitees how many people will be there so that they can bring enough business cards, as well as their brochures, sample products, and so on. Or, if you have a larger conference or event planned, make sure you have considered parking and traffic control outside the event, and crowd control and health and safety within the event.
Work out the agenda of your event
For example, 19:00-19:15 – Arrival of participants, 19:15-19:20 – Greetings and presentations, 19:20-20:30 – Each participant in a circle has 5-7 minutes to tell about their business, 20:30- 21:00 – casual networking.
Organize the communication of participants
The key to success in any networking event is moving within a group and communicating with many people. In a group of people, there are always those who easily move and communicate, making contacts and friends, while others may be a little embarrassed and feel insecure in a group where they do not know anyone.
Do not forget to advertise yourself
This is a very common mistake, just because you organized an event does not mean that you should not advertise yourself.
Let people assess your event
You might think that your networking event was exceptionally successful, but other people may think differently. It is important to get feedback from the participants themselves.
Bring the matter to the end
Contact everyone you meet or exchange business cards with, and encourage others to do the same. Call your potential customers and say that you were pleased to meet them. Find ways you can help each other in business. Send them customers and ask them to send customers to you. Don’t be shy about your desire to establish working relationships.
Help people to meet each other
You can help people meet other participants if you approach those who look a little “out of place” and start a conversation. Ask what they are doing and who their ideal customer is, then introduce them to anyone who is nearby (even if you don’t know this person). After that, you can leave these two participants, who can now talk among themselves, and help someone else. Do not worry that there will be too many guests. Just tell everyone and ask others to help with the networking process.