Whatever the reason you may have for holding a network event, there are several steps that you should follow to ensure your occasion is a major success.
Other than wanting to bring people together, the first thing you need to decide is the purpose of the event.
… Is it to build professional relationships?
… Introduce like-minded individuals?
… Make a new announcement?
… Launch a new product?
While you’re planning your networking event, you should know what your ‘one thing’ is.
Don’t skip this part… You need to know what your purpose is so that the rest of the decisions in the planning process are infinitely easier to make.
2. Target Audience and Guest Numbers
Choosing the right people to attend your event is the most important part of having a successful event.
Who you choose to invite can be influenced by a wide range of demographics. Take the time to go through your contacts to create a guest list that are like-minded and will complement each other.
For networking events, the adage of ‘quality over quantity’ certainly applies. It doesn’t matter how many people you invite if they cannot relate to one another. People will have a better time if there’s only 10 people who attend and they have great conversations than if there’s 100 people that they can’t connect with.
In terms of numbers, a group size of 40-50 guests is perfect for an event of 2 hours, allowing enough time for guests to mingle and converse with each other in a relaxed environment. Too few guests and you could have many uncomfortable silences, while too many guests will have people scrambling to get around to as many people as they can, while others may feel a strong sense of missing out on opportunities.
3. Choosing the right venue
The venue you choose will have a great influence on the success of the event, and as a reflection of you and your company. A vibrant and unique venue will help create an event that your guests will remember for a long time to come.
When looking for a venue consider the following points:
Will the venue provide your event with either full or partial exclusivity?
Is the venue too big/small for your guest list? Are there adaptable areas that will address this?
Look for venues with layouts that encourage guest interaction. Venues with large table or booth style seating will see guests planted and less likely to ‘explore’ the room.
Are the audio-visual requirements of the venue suitable?
What memorable X Factor does the venue possess? How will this encourage the networking process?
For events with many guests who may be meeting for the first time, an attraction or activity where everyone is involved is the perfect way to ‘break the ice’ with a common experience providing a great conversation starter.
An example of such a venue is Race Party, located in Hawthorn East. A classy and highly adaptable venue with a layout that can be tailored for groups from 10 to 100. The common open area is furnished with cocktail lounge seating with high stools and tables, mobile bar stations to serve drinks in many locations and audio-visual options including microphones and smart televisions throughout the venue.
The gem in the Race Party experience however is the two 40-meter, eight lane slot car race tracks. With fun and excitement, guests speed through a number of race series, constantly changing places and interacting with each other as they drive, marshal cars and enjoy the food and beverages on offer. A fully hosted attraction with staff commentating and controlling the action, it provides the perfect platform to create new contacts.
4. Creating the event
Once you have your date, time and venue set, you can plan the rest of your event. Some items to keep in mind are:
· Invitations and other designs – keep well ahead of time schedules to avoid messy and expensive last-minute fixes
Entertainment – if not provided by the venue, what entertainment will be on hand
Staffing – Internal staff and experts on hand for set up, the event itself and the pack up
Collateral and giveaways – if you are, what handouts or gifts are you giving out on the evening?
VIP guests and speakers – what special requirements may they have
5. Invitations, RSVPs and guest list
When creating the guest list, you should try to include several key influencers – people who are as passionate about the cause or have a key interest in the same field as you do. Get them on side early, even inviting them in on the event planning process. By having more energetic and spirited people on the case you give your event credibility and greatly increase the chances of pulling strong guest numbers. The right people will also make your invitation and event more attractive to others
When sending out invitations you should be sure to personalise wherever possible. Invitations to events can often come thick and fast, so take whatever advantage you can to stand out from the pack by adding a personal touch to your invites.
The length of time you give when sending out invitations before an event changes depending to many factors. Try to keep your schedule close enough to the event date to stay in the mind of the guest, but not too close that they have already been booked out.
When setting an RSVP date work with your venue in finding out how much notice they require for catering purposes, and work within these guidelines. Leave your RSVP date too late and you will find yourself scrambling days before your event trying to pin down key guests.
6. Execution in lead up to and on the day of the event
In the week leading up to the event there are many things that will keeping you on your toes. Items such as:
· Finalizing RSVPs and confirming numbers with the venue
· Organizing and putting together any collateral, presentations or signage for the event
· Preparing giveaways and gifts to be handed out at the event
· Meeting and preparing your team with all relevant times and information
Be sure to write a checklist specific to your event for key items to be checked off prior to the event, and on the event day.
Set a schedule guide for the event to ensure a smooth flow during the event. Be sure to allow appropriate time for more formal speeches and presentations, as well as time for guests to take part in any activities or attractions.
During the event, be sure to meet with EVERYONE. Talk to your guests with a focus on them, ask questions and listen intently with genuine interest. Your guests will remember if you do.
Look for opportunities to connect guests that share a mutual interest or would benefit from meeting each other. Keep a track of connections made and refer to these in the future.
Be sure to have a few allies on your team to assist with the networking process. Keep and eye out for people stuck in the corner or left alone, and have your allies not only reach out to them, but also to connect them to others they may share common interests with.
As the guests leave the event, be sure to thank them for their attendance and hand them any relevant gifts or information as required
7. After the event - Keep the fires burning
To stay in mind after a great event it is important to follow up with all the attending guests. It is the best way to reinforce the message or purpose of your event, and another touch point to continue building on your professional relationship.
Send a follow up email thanking them for coming and saying you wished that you had more time during the event to talk further with them, with an invitation to catch up again later.
With the right location and some good planning, you can run a highly engaging and effective networking event that will long remain in the memories of your guests.
Experience slot car racing at Race Party
To find out more information on holding a networking event at Race Party, phone (03) 9882 1391 or fill out the form below: