By Gail Stolzenburg
Have you heard the statement, “The primary reason to host an event is to promote the next event.”? Does that statement apply to networking events? Yes, many networkers use an event to promote their next event. Referral marketers host local networking events to promote citywide events then state, regional, national, and international events. In fact, hosting your event in conjunction with a larger event adds credibility to your event.
Houston has over 6,000 networking events each month including many chambers of commerce, open (casual contact), closed (strong contact), community, civic, charitable, and women’s and men’s groups. Some of the events have a well established track record of more than 20 years.
So, what makes it a phenomenal networking event? Remember the “4 P’s”.
Why are you hosting the event? As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind”. We know people purchase from those they know, like, and trust, so even though your reason may be to help develop your business, you must provide value at the event. Plan eight weeks in advance. Who are you inviting? Geographics (where do they live), demographics (who are they), and psychographics (what are their values) all need to be considered. What is the cost? Is it a luncheon? Can you charge a few extra dollars to cover other costs? Location – what kind of facility? Who is on your team to help with the hospitality, registration, setup, cleanup, donating prizes, etc.?
Promote using traditional and nontraditional resources including newspapers, magazines, post cards, Meetups, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs; webinars, teleconference calls, Google HangOuts, the venue’s event list, other event list publishers, and announce at other events. Have something that appeals to each of the personality types: Director, Influencer, Supporter, and Conscientious.
It’s all about the experience. Why do people stand in line to pay more for coffee at Starbucks when they can get it across the street a convenience store? Make it a memorable experience by making guests feel welcome with team members making introductions. Leave no one alone. Use upbeat music. Do you remember how it feels to walk into a quiet room? Use networking exercises. Many events use photos and hashtags to promote the event to their friends while they’re attending the event. Consider livestreaming for large events.
Did you hear about the host of an event who did everything correctly? There was good promotion; the date had no other conflicting events. The location was easy to find with free parking; a delicious, inexpensive lunch was included; the signage was easy to read, and the music was upbeat. The attendees were welcomed by the hosts and introduced to other guests; the speaker was a well known, best selling author; and everyone had a memorable experience.
But there was one part missing – the final “P”.
- Post Event Follow-Up
There were post event follow-ups that included an invitation to the next event with an onsite registration form, a thank you by email, text, or notes; and a survey that asked, “What did you like best? What could be improved?”
Before hosting a networking event, be sure to attend some of the established events. See you there!
Your Network is Your Wealth!
Gail “The Connector” Stolzenburg’s new book, “CONNECTIONS: Contacts to Clients” was just released. For more information, Gail can be contacted by phone at 281-493-1955, by email at [email protected], or visit his website at www.GailStolzenburg.com.