16 Networking Event Ideas to Improve Your Future Events
Are you looking for some new networking event ideas? Maybe your previous events haven’t been as successful as you’d hoped. Or maybe you’re just looking to mix things up a bit.
Running a successful networking event can be a lot of work. But it’s worth it when you see people mingling, connecting, and doing business together.
Here are the top ideas to help get more of your next networking event to be a success:
1. Start with a goal in mind
By having a clear goal, you’ll be able to better plan your event and market it to the right people.
To set clear goals, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of the event?
- Who is my target audience?
- What do I want attendees to walk away with?
When you have a plan in place, it’s easier to assemble the right team and resources to make your event a success. Once you have a goal, you can start thinking about how to best achieve it.
2. Do your research
No matter what type of event you’re planning, it’s important to do your research. This means understanding your target audience and what would appeal to them.
For example, if you’re planning a networking event for small business owners, you’ll want to research the types of events that they typically attend, what their interests are, and what their needs might be. This way, you can make sure your event has the right mix of people and activities.
Or, if you’re planning an event for a specific industry, you’ll want to research the latest trends. This will help you ensure that your event is relevant and informative.
3. Create a list of potential contacts
One of the most important aspects of event planning is creating a list of potential contacts. These are people who you think would be interested in attending your event.
To create a list of potential contacts, start by thinking about your target audience. Then, make a list of businesses or individuals who fit that description.
You can also use social media to find potential contacts. For example, LinkedIn is a great place to find business professionals that you can connect with.
4. Attend relevant events
Another great way to find potential contacts is to attend relevant events. This will give you a chance to meet people who might be interested in attending your event.
The key here is to be strategic about the events you attend. You don’t want to waste your time attending events that aren’t relevant to your target audience because you are trying to find people who would be interested in what you’re offering, right?
5. Dress to impress
First impressions are important, so make sure you dress to impress at your next networking event. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit or dress. But you should dress in clothes that are clean and professional.
If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s always better to err on the side of being too dressy rather than too casual. You can always take off a jacket or tie if you get too hot. But if you’re underdressed, it can be hard to make a good impression.
6. Be confident and approachable
When meeting new people, it’s important to be confident and approachable. Smile and make eye contact when you’re talking to someone. And don’t be afraid to start a conversation.
Here too, practice makes perfect. If you’re not used to talking to new people, it can be helpful to attend a few smaller events before attending a larger one. This way, you can get comfortable talking to new people and hone your conversation skills. If you know you’re going to be attending a large event, it can also be helpful to bring along a friend or colleague.
7. Bring business cards
Make sure you bring plenty of business cards to your next networking event. It must include your active business phone number and even social media accounts. Exchange them with people you meet. And be sure to collect business cards from potential contacts.
Don’t forget that a business card also represents you and your brand. You’re not only giving someone your contact information, but you’re also giving them a sense of who you are and what you do. So make sure your business card reflects the image you want to project.
8. Have an elevator pitch prepared
An elevator pitch is a short, concise summary of your business or personal brand. It’s called an elevator pitch because it should be something you can say in the time it takes to ride an elevator.
Your elevator pitch should be clear and interesting. It should also be tailored to your audience. For example, if you’re networking with potential customers, your pitch should be different than if you’re networking with potential investors.
With these simple tips, you can create an effective elevator pitch in no time:
- Introduce yourself: Tell who you are and what you do
- Explain your missions and values: Why do you do what you do?
- Provide value: What can you offer the other person?
- Use hooks: A hook is something that will make the other person want to know more.
- Keep it short and sweet: Remember, you only have a few seconds to make an impression. So make sure your pitch is clear and to the point.
9. Listen more than you talk
When you’re talking to someone, make sure you’re listening more than you’re talking. This will help you learn about the other person and build rapport.
Always remember to face the speaker, keep eye contact, and nod your head to show that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Never interrupt, and try to avoid talking about yourself too much. The goal is to learn about the other person, not to talk about yourself.
10. Follow up after the event
Once the event is over, don’t forget to follow up with the people you met. Networking events can be a great way to connect with potential employers, customers, or business partners. However, it can be difficult to know how to follow up with people after the event.
One of the most important things is to get their contact information. Make sure to exchange business cards or connect on LinkedIn. You should also make a note of any conversation you had so that you can reference it in your follow-up email or message. Once you have their information, reach out within 24-48 hours. Thank them for their time and mention anything you discussed.
If you promised to send additional information, make sure to follow through. Following up after a networking event is a great way to build relationships and potentially further your career.
11. Get involved with the organization
If you’re a member of a professional organization, consider getting more involved. This could mean volunteering to help with events or joining a committee. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities will arise. Getting involved is also a great way to give back to your profession and build your network. It’s a win-win situation!
12. Offer to help
If you’re planning an event, offer to help with the organization or promotion. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and make some valuable connections.
Some ways you can help include:
- Organizing: Help with the logistics of the event, such as finding a venue or sending out invitations.
- Promoting: Use your professional social media accounts to generate interest and enthusiasm for the event. You can also help distribute flyers or postcards.
- Volunteering: Offer to volunteer at the event itself. This is a great way to meet people and get involved.
After the event, be sure to thank the organizers for their hard work. This is a great way to build relationships and potentially get involved in future events.
13. Be a good host
If you’re hosting an event, make sure you’re prepared. This means having enough food and drinks, as well as name tags or other materials.
Nobody wants to attend a disorganized event and they’ll be sure to remember if you’re the one who made it that way. Being a good host also means being welcoming and hospitable to all guests. This includes introductions, conversation starters, and making sure everyone is comfortable.
14. Keep it professional
Networking events can be a great way to connect with potential employers or build your professional network. However, it is important to remember to keep it professional.
It’s often better to avoid personal topics of conversation. Stick to discussing business or industry news. Also, being polite to everyone you meet is essential. You never know who you’ll run into again or what opportunities will arise.
15. Give back
One of the best ways to stand out in the crowd is to give back. When you’re networking, think about how you can help others. This could mean offering advice, making introductions, or sharing resources.
Giving back doesn’t have to be a big gesture. Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest difference.
16. Have fun!
Networking doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Make sure you take some time to enjoy yourself at your next event. After all, networking is a great way to meet new people and make new friends.
This is just a simple list of networking event ideas to improve your future events. But, if you keep these things in mind, you’re sure to have more success. And, who knows? You might even have some fun along the way.
You can look back on your previous networking events and figure out what worked and what didn’t. From there, you can start planning your next event with a goal in mind. And, with a little bit of preparation, you’re sure to make some progress!
Do you have any other networking event ideas? Share them in the comments below!