Planning and hosting a networking event has many benefits for your business. It allows you to connect with the right people in the right places. This is critical, especially if you’re interested in expanding into a new city or looking to hire new staff.
Of course, networking events can’t succeed without attracting the right audience. From poor marketing to inaccessible venues, there are many reasons why your audience doesn’t attend.
To prevent this from happening, check out these top 10 things that attract an audience to a networking event.
Firstly, make sure your audience feels like they’re a part of the event from the beginning. This will really motivate them to not only attend in the first place but also promote and participate in it.
There are many ways to do this, including sending personal invites or gift boxes to companies you’d like to attend—the more personal, the better. The more important attendees feel, the more likely theywillo come along or tell their colleagues.
Secondly, speakers are a massive draw for any networking event. They’re the beginning and end of your night; they’ll both open and close it with their presence. However, choosing good speakers is not always easy. Ensure you choose people who can really provide value to your audience members in some way or another.
An example of a good speaker is the CEO of a local company or the town’s mayor your networking event is going to be at. Of course, the speakers have to be relevant to your industry. So be ready for months of planning to ensure that your desired speakers can attend.
Thirdly, you need to make your networking event accessible.
Thought must go into the venue you choose to make sure that it’s accessible for everyone; this means ensuring that there’s disabled access, elevators, enough toilets for everyone to safely use, and parking outside or accessible transportation links. This is vital in ensuring that people come to your event they feel safe and happy to participate. After all, you want all of the right people to be able to go to your event, not just a few!
Fourthly, make sure that you market your networking event thoroughly. As with any product or service, you will struggle if you’re not in front of your target audience. Suppose you have the resources to do the marketing yourself, great. If not you may get to the point where you need to hire a digital marketing agency or a freelancer to help you with this side of things.
Marketing begins with choosing an appropriate time of year for it to happen. Some seasons are more popular than others for networking events, so pick a time to ensure the right people can attend.
You’ll also want to market your event via social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, where possible. This is because these platforms allow you to target specific demographics based on their interests or location; this guarantees that you’re reaching out only to those who might actually be interested in your networking event.
Then, you’ll want to market the individual speaker. this might entail this means creating flyers or posters with information about them and their company. You can even distribute them free at different events beforehand! This ensures that people are excited by who is speaking before they arrive on the night, making it more likely that they’ll attend.
Get creative with the ads you run on LinkedIn or Facebook, and target business owners within the local area.
You’ll also need to make sure you have a strong brand. There are many networking events out there, so why should someone come to yours? This is where a well thought out and executed brand strategy comes into play.
One way you can do this is via social media.
Strong Social Media Presence
Frequent updates, high levels of communication and a solid social media presence all make your networking event more attractive. But you need to make sure it’s authentic.
Ensure the content of your posts and updates reflect positively on yourself as an individual and the event itself. This will entice people to attend because they want to meet you or learn what’s going on at your event.
Candid photos are always best and can help show that while business is being carried out, attendees also have fun and meet like-minded people. You may have consistent attendees as part of your networking group. So make sure they post on their personal profiles, which will help maximise your reach.
Sometimes networking can have negative connotations, social media can help combat that, and again, this all comes back to your strategy and differentiating your brand.
Don’t forget to use hashtags whenever possible – these are a great way of ensuring that your networking event is visible across social media, which will be attractive for those who aren’t yet involved with it!
Following on from impressive marketing, if you aim your event at business professionals, it’s only suitable to make sure that you use a professional tone when marketing, promoting and talking about your event.
Many networking events are industry-specific, so using industry-specific jargon is a good idea to attract industry professionals. This ensures that your event is not only professional but also tailored specifically to those who work within the industry you’re hosting it for – which will attract them!
Suitable Ticket Prices
If your networking event is set to be a paid event, you’ll need to make sure that your ticket prices (or prices of entry) are relative to the event and what your audience is getting from your event.
Setting a high entry price might mean that only the wealthiest professionals attend, which will not be attractive for anyone else. On the other hand, placing your ticket prices too low may make it seem like you’re working with a tight budget and don’t care about what happens at your networking event – this is thoroughly unattractive!
The best way to go about ticket prices is by learning from other networking events that you’ve heard of or attended. What were their entry fees? How many people did they attract? Use these points as a guide for your event.
Good Food & Drink Options
Another essential thing to consider when hosting any networking event is offering catering options.
Offering high-quality food and drink (for example, finger foods or buffet options) will always ensure that you’ll attract an audcience because they’ll know that there’s something good on offer!
However, you must also consider the price of these catering options. If it costs too much for extravagant food choices, this will affect ticket prices and discourage guests from coming.
Good Accommodation Options
People who have travelled far to attend your networking event will appreciate it if you offer them a place of accommodation nearby, so they don’t need to worry about getting home late at night or early in the morning.
If you hold your networking event at a hotel venue, offering a discount on their room is something they’ll appreciate! Most hotels with significant conference capabilities are not the cheapest.
Offering accommodation will mean that those who have come from a long way away are more likely to attend.
Comfortable Seating & Good Room Set-Up
Suppose you hold your event in an uncomfortable venue, such as one without comfortable seating and bad acoustics. In that case, people will probably not want to attend. What would be the point if no one can hear properly and can’t sit comfortably? This is why it’s crucial to ensure that your venue for the networking event offers a comfortable seating area, with ample space. No one wants to feel cramped and straining to hear everything you say.
When people attend good quality networking events, they’ll want to keep coming back in the future. Poor events, with problems such as uncomfortable seating or a poor room set-up, mean they will never come back.
Author Bio – Christian Heritage
Christian Heritage is Managing Director of D-tox Group. D-tox helps large and small event organisers ensure they have everything they need from a sanitation point of view to keep guests happy. From portable toilet hire to septic tank emptying festival organisers, construction sites, and more trust D-tox.