If you’re an entrepreneur that is looking to connect with other business owners, hosting corporate events is a powerful way to get a bigger network. Hosting a networking event is quite different than a luncheon or a dinner. You’d have to plan every detail of the event and create ways to facilitate conversation. When you plan a successful entrepreneur networking event, you are suddenly a business leader in the community. Planning a successful event can improve your impact on your clients and other entrepreneurs.
Here are the tips on how to host a successful entrepreneur networking event.
Before you can get any event going, you need to start with a good social media strategy. Unless you’ve been a local business owner for decades, you likely don’t know every business owner in your area. Even if you know most of them, you want to have access to more people from your general location. There are several ways to connect with entrepreneurs and convince more people to attend your event. The easiest answer to do it is to build a social media group and create a safe space to discuss.
This space can be something as simple as a Facebook page or an FB group to help you communicate. Blogs and forums are another way to discuss on the internet. Blogs are a great way to connect passively with an audience. Forums, on the other hand, are great for a less targeted approach. Use social media like Twitter and Facebook to find local business owners that you can create lasting connections.
2. Prepare ahead
If you’re looking to get more participants in your event, you need to prepare the details of the event months ahead. Depending on how big you want your event, you would want to prepare an event at least a few weeks in advance. For smaller networking events, a couple of weeks should be enough, while bigger ones would need around 60 days. Why wait this long? For starters, you need to have entrepreneurs accommodate your event into their schedules.
A good businessman will likely have their calendars packed, so you need to give them enough time to plan. At the same time, you need to have enough time to plan the event yourself. Consider a registration app that will provide email and SMS reminders to those who sign up. This will help you get commitments from your registrants and add you to their calendars. This makes registration much easier for everyone and gives everyone enough time to prepare.
3. Choose the right venue
The pandemic has made preparing venues much harder, but now that everything is starting to normalize, you would want to pick a venue wisely. You can pick a few options, including a function hall, hotel lobby, patio area, or even a hotel bar, depending on the time and topic. One crucial detail you need to mind is the venue’s aesthetics. You want something that looks upscale, easy to find and has adequate parking. Remove any friction and frustration that might come up, especially with seating, food, and drinks.
Some restaurants and bars are willing to comp the space, knowing they’ll earn something extra from the drinks. Make sure the venue is also the right size. You want something that’s not too small that it will not fit your upcoming guests. You also don’t want something too big that it costs you too much money. A good balance of space should help make your plans much easier.
4. Choose a nice, narrow niche
The best entrepreneur networking events have a very narrow niche. They follow current trends for the businesses and provide the right type of knowledge that business owners would find interesting. This ensures that guests can have a common ground with one another, as well as get out of the event with a shared experience. You want a topic that works for all types of entrepreneurs that will join the networking event. Find out what people are talking about right now.
Do your research and ask around what will help the group of people that you have attending. If the topic is too wide, you can even make a series of events that lets you bring in more speakers. If you’re already talking with like-minded entrepreneurs, discuss with them what they want to hear and learn. Beyond creating new business contacts, you want to carry out polls and Q&As to get the pulse of your audience.
5. Meet everyone and talk to everyone
During the event itself, it’s important that you meet everyone who attends the event. Introduce yourself to every person and welcome them into the event. Focus on learning what they do, rather than showing off what you do. This is a crucial test of your listening skills to show your genuine interest in their work. If you can, keep your venue as open as possible. As networking events are about walking, talking, and moving around, you want a venue that is easy to navigate.
Keep your space open and keep chairs to a minimum. If you need a way to get the ball rolling, start with an ice breaker. Encourage people to talk to each other, meet up with new people, and find interesting things about others. Other than a brief welcoming speech, try to keep the public speeches and lectures to a minimum if you can. Do your best to be a good connector.
Make sure that nobody is left sitting in a corner alone. If you can, find people who can help you anchor others and have them talk to each other. Having others listen to one another can give everyone a good time when attending your event. After the event, follow up and do it again. Get their pulse and learn how you can do your next event better.
Hosting a successful entrepreneur networking event is a great way for people to meet, grow, and learn. It’s also a fantastic way to create a bigger web of professionals and entrepreneurs that can connect you to more people. In the long run, these networking events will help establish you as a leader within your community. Follow the tips above and you’ll see them clamoring to come back to your next event.