Networking is a socioeconomic necessity in which people meet and form relationships, be it for business purposes, spreading brand awareness, casual or something more intimate. The idea is to recognize, create, or act upon opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures or customers for your brand.
In our previous article, I mentioned some new event management trends that you should adopt in 2020, and I’m going to connect the dots here to help you get an in-depth view of how you can host an effective networking event to further your business venture, increase brand awareness, or simply promote a healthy social environment.
Following are our tips on how event managers can host effective networking events.
Event Networking in 2020
When hosting a networking event, the goal is simple: boost attendance and ensure that your message gets through to the audience the way you want.
But the secret is to keep it subtle. You need to send your message in a way that audience gets intrigued by your product, not annoyed by it.
Be Subtle With Your Pitch
Every brand and event manager knows that pitching your brand or product is reserved for the end of the event, but we’re bringing it up before everything else because of its importance. Pitches are always the most boring part of any event for audiences. You’re asking your audience to waste precious minutes of their time to listen to what your brand can and will do.
No one’s interested in that.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t pitch your product at all – just suggesting that you should be subtle with it. Start a casual conversation and present your idea under the cover of that conversation. Fashion your company’s description, brand overview, and target audience within a single sentence.
For example, when talking about The Avengers, you can pitch in your product while mentioning how ‘sculpted’ Chris Evans looks in the movie. Leave room for the other person or persons to pitch in. Let them speak, and respond with your product in mind without mentioning it again and again.
You should ask questions to engage them. This will make them subconsciously relate to your product. It will also help you learn more about market needs and what a potential customer might be looking for – the perfect way to strategize your next event’s marketing.
Personalized Event Management
I mentioned in the previous article that you need to personalize events and content when devising event management strategies, and this applies to networking events as well. People aren’t as interested in seeing how ‘liked’ your Instagram or Facebook post is anymore. Instead, they’re more interested in how much the post relates to them.
The more it relates, the more it’ll engage; the more it engages, the more it’ll stick.
While personalized posts and emails will increase attendance at your event, what about once they’re there?
Present chances throughout your event for people to converse with each other; perhaps via banners or activities that connect with people. The more chances you give each of your attendees to converse, the more you’ll learn about them and understand their preferences. You can then put that information into your next pitch to make it more interesting for attendees.
Choose a Venue that Reflects the Mood
Hosting a networking event for managers, CEOs, CFOs, and investors at night next to an open river might not be a good idea. For such an event, you should look at nicer venues such as hotels that will let you host your event in one of their halls, lobby, or patio.
Make sure you have a bar, sufficient parking space, and preferably no interruptions from the outside world. Minimize as many interruptions and frustrations as you can.
Despite it being a networking event, people often stick to their own groups as much as possible. Try breaking these groups up or presenting them with opportunities and incentives to go out of their comfort zones and meet others.
As an event manager, you can also tell your staff to come in regular clothes and initiate conversations with groups that don’t seem to be socializing to entice them to talk to other individuals or groups.
Managers often make the mistake of watching the event from a bird’s eye view to make sure everything goes according to plan.
While this might work for social events, networking events are different. They are generally more on the professional and quieter side, regardless of whether it’s a business or creative event. Make sure you introduce yourself to every attendee; welcoming them and making them feel at home.
Remember to focus on what they do, not what you’re doing. A simple introduction that you’re the event manager is enough.
The more you listen, they more likely they are to remember you.
Follow Up & Do It Again
This step will help you both as an event manager and a social network enthusiast.
A day or two after the event, call your attendees to ask what they liked and disliked in the event. You’d be surprised at how much constructive criticism and event ideas you can get from attendees. Take their suggestions into account the next time you’re planning a networking event and remember to call them.
This way, not only do you form long-lasting event networks, you also get opportunities to increase brand awareness much more often!
Types of Networking Events
Moving on from how you can increase brand awareness at your networking events, following are the different types of events you can host;
- Breakfast Networking Event
- Roundtable Events
- Women/Men Organizations
- Happy Hour Event Networking
- Professional Associations
- Groups on social media
Benefits of Networking
Networking events aren’t just to socialize or find investors but also play a vital role in brand awareness, hiring, event hosting, security, and spread of information. More often than not, vacancies get filled without finding their way to recruiting firms, newspapers or LinkedIn. A person simply knows someone who knows a person, who knows a person fit for the job.
For example, when was the last time you saw a job opening for a director, CFO, CTO, or other bigger jobs? Yes, companies do promote existing employees to those positions, but in order to get an independent view, they hire a person from the outside.
If you’re looking for a marketing tool to increase brand awareness, there is no better way than to host a networking event. It’s all about giving the audience what they want, laced subtly with your product description and its benefits!