As you probably already know, networking is important in any business. If you’re not really on board with this philosophy yet, check out my previous post Networking: Difficult, but Necessary for my thoughts on the topic. As an event planner, thinking about any type of event leads to breaking down ways to make it successful. Keep reading to find out the 4 keys to planning a killer networking event!
It all starts with who you invite to the party. It’s important to get people in the room that should want to know each other, for whatever reason. Perhaps they all belong to the same industry, or perhaps they have overlapping needs and services that means they will want to work together, or perhaps your guests just have interests in common. Whichever is the answer, the people in the room need to want to talk to one another. If that’s not the case from the get go, it’s tough to make them do so.
When deciding where to hold your networking event, make sure that the venue you choose makes sense for a gathering where people should be mixing and mingling. If the room is an odd shape, or too large, it might keep guests too spread out. Make sure it won’t be crowded, but that people will be close enough together that they feel they can reach out and chat with anyone in the room.
Assigning someone to greet guests at the door can have a great impact on how comfortable people feel when they arrive. At the very least, greeters can orient guests to the event and introduce themselves. Even better, a good greeter will be able to turn around and introduce new arrivals to someone else in the room that is alone or might not know too many attendees.
It is important that your networking event allows time for people to interact. You can certainly have a short program, but definitely avoid having the whole thing scheduled minute by minute. Similarly, a few icebreaker activities are a great idea – they can really warm people up to interacting – but don’t go overboard. Make sure that your guests have plenty of time to talk to one another.
That being said, having something to do can be helpful for those people that may have come alone and end up between conversations from time to time. I know I usually attend events like this on my own, and I’m typically thankful for the food and the bar. Every time a conversation ends and I need to figure out who to speak to next, I can look like I’ve got a plan by heading over to get a drink. But if I should happen to meet someone along the way that I want to talk to, even better.
Planning a killer networking event doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are a few keys you can keep in mind while planning to maximize the success of your gathering. In the end, the goal of events like this are interaction, so anything you can do to increase that aspect will only make the whole experience better for your guests.