7 tips for planning a successful networking event

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Are you growing your business or working towards building a strong brand? 

 

Organising a professional gathering can be a great way to create brand awareness, launch a product or share your knowledge with potential customers and partners. Most importantly, it brings like-minded people together — and isn’t that when the magic really happens? 

 

Virtual networking events became a popular way to connect when the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on in-person socialising. And whilst they still offer a convenient networking opportunity, there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned get-together when it comes to connecting with your professional peers.  

 

Hosting a face-to-face event may seem daunting, but planning a successful session just takes a little know-how. So, here are some things to think about if you want to throw the networking event of the year… 

 

1. Be specific about your purpose

 

Before getting carried away with the logistics, clarifying everything you aim to achieve with your networking event is essential.  

 

Are you a small business owner hoping to meet others on the same journey? Is the aim of your event to recruit new talent to your organisation or to raise money for a good cause? Perhaps your business is launching a new product or service and you’re keen for your customers to have a sneak peek… 

 

Whether you’re hosting an industry-wide exhibition or a casual meetup for your peers, clearly defining the goal of your event will help you ensure you’re planning it with your target audience in mind. 

 

2. Decide on your event’s format 

 

Now that you’ve ironed out the purpose of your get-together, it’s time to decide what type of soiree you’d like to throw. 

 

If your event’s geared towards creatives, such as marketers, influencers or journalists, how about an interactive workshop or themed party to convey your message and create opportunities for guests to create and post content? 

 

Or, for a tech-based company hosting a business-to-business (B2B) event, inviting a guest speaker to educate your audience or holding a question-and-answer seminar where they can share their knowledge could be an appealing option.  

 

3. Search for the perfect venue 

 

The location of your meeting sets the tone for your guests — so you’ll need to consider it carefully… 

 

If your event aims to encourage guests to mingle, you’ll want to find an interesting space where people can move around and greet one another, which allows you to be pretty flexible with your venue. From museums and galleries to bars and open office spaces, there are endless options to choose from that can create a friendly, welcoming environment. 

 

Will your event be a more formal, informative gathering? Then you’ll need a professional meeting room equipped with projectors and other presenting equipment — and plenty of comfortable seating for your guests. Think smart, modern spaces with a calm atmosphere, free from outside noise. 

 

4. Create an event budget 

 

Next, it’s time to tally up your costs and decide how you’ll cover them.  

 

Many companies charge for tickets to cover their expenses, offering the opportunity for even smaller businesses to host an event. Plus, putting a (reasonable) price tag on your exhibition, conference or meet-up can instil a sense of value for attendees and most likely improve your turnout.  

 

Alternatively, you might look for sponsorship, which also has the benefit of extra marketing, helping to build brand awareness and boost your business’ image. 

 

For this type of arrangement to work successfully, steer your event towards a relevant sponsor — an organisation with a similar tone of voice or demographic to your business to tie in nicely with the purpose of your event. 

 

5. Pick a date and time 

 

This might seem simple, but finding a date and time to work for everyone is tricky.  

 

It’s worth considering your demographic and seeing if there’s an option that’s most appropriate for them. For example, young professionals might enjoy after-work drinks, whilst parents may only be interested in events outside of school holidays.  

 

6. Shout about your event

 

LinkedIn is a great place to broadcast your event if you’re inviting professionals, small business owners or entrepreneurs. You can also make LinkedIn groups dedicated to events, so all the information is kept neatly in one place and attendees can ask questions, accept your invite and post pictures from the day. 

 

Targeted Facebook ads are another great way to spread the word. They’re low-cost and deliver your message straight to your desired demographic — especially useful for product launches and smaller gatherings for like-minded people. 

 

Want to make guests feel like they’ll be a part of something special? Build excitement around your event in the days leading up — and make sure it’s clear what the attendees will get out of the event, too.  

 

7. Follow up for feedback

 

You followed our advice and your event was a roaring success — congrats! But don’t let things settle with just a handshake.  

 

Make sure to send a follow-up email to everyone who attended, thanking them for coming, circulating important information from the event and inviting them to ask any questions.  

 

It’s also a valuable opportunity to ask for feedback from attendees, so you can better understand how it went and learn how you could improve it next time. Because after all this fun, we’re sure you’ll want to do it again… 

 

You don’t need to be a Brew member to take advantage of our facilities in the buzzing city of London — anyone can hire our selection of meeting rooms for conferences, workshops or networking events. We’ll even set it up for you! Discover our event spaces in Shoreditch and request a quote today.