In many walks of life it’s not always what you know but who you know that will help you succeed. We have been spending lots of time connecting and reconnecting with PAs, EAs and Executive Assistants across the UK – with amazing results. They really are a powerhouse in British business!
And, it got me thinking about what truly makes for a successful networking event.
If you are looking to benefit from a networking events, or if your industry has no local networks you can join, these seven tips will help you to recognise events that will work – or inspire you to set up your own!
1. Be specific
Lots of networking events fail because it isn’t clear who the audience is meant to be. When there are lots of pulls on people’s time, simply hosting a business breakfast, lunch or whatever isn’t enough. Why should people care? Focus on who you are aiming to meet and what they have in common, then make the invitation specific enough to raise interest among people in the group you want to attend.
2. Choose a central venue
Making it easy for people for attend is one of the best things you can do to attract the crowd you want. In this respect, choosing a venue in a central location with good car parking and public transport links is not only desirable, it is essential. Many hotels and bars will let you reserve space for free if they know they will make money on drinks. Let the venue know it is a networking event and who it is aimed at because there may be a useful contact on the staff who would like to attend.
3. Keep it short and sweet
Don’t confuse networking events with social entertainment. People may well end up making friends, but the main reason they are there is to find new business contacts. As enjoyable as you make it, it’s still work, so you need to fit in easily with people’s schedules. One or two hours is long enough for most informal networking events and keep refreshments light. If there is a guest speaker – choose someone with a relevant message to share but a innovative style – you want memorable.
4. Ask guests to RSVP
Having an idea of final numbers is important for the success any event, but with networking events this organising basic can often get forgotten in a bid to invite anyone and everyone connected to the type of business you’re hoping to attract. By all means ask contacts to pass on the invitation to people in their organisation who would be interested, but make sure that attendance is registered in advance. If numbers are restricted make this clear. Using a registration app such as Eventbright is an easy way to keep track of numbers and makes it easy to send an automated email reminder nearer the day.
5. Welcome everyone
Make sure you introduce yourself to every person who attends. Welcome them, ask about what they do, and show a genuine interest in their reply. True listening at networking events is rare and a person who feels they’ve been heard will remember you for it.
6. Connect people
Look for opportunities to connect people who would benefit from meeting each other. For example if you meet a freelance writer introduce them to a magazine editor, or if you know someone is looking for a service that another of your guests provides, put them in touch. Encourage connections after the event via social media groups – a great place to introduce and extend conversations from the event.
7. Get Feedback
Hopefully from the atmosphere and attendance you will have some idea as to how well your event went. However, it’s always good to check in with guests afterwards to ask how they liked it and to get ideas for the next one. If you’re starting a new networking group, asking for feedback in this way not only helps you improve your event it also gives you a good reason to make contact again and build on the new relationships you have made.