Host a Networking Event: 5 Tips

Networking events create a great opportunity to find potential employees, make industry contacts, learn more about industry innovations and find potential employers. If you're hosting the event, it's critical that your attendees leave with a feeling of accomplishment and time well spent. Here are 4 business networking tips for making your event a success.

Choose a Great Location

As with most events, location is a big part of an event's success. Determine the number of attendees you'll be expecting before you begin you location search. It's important that your event location will hold your guests properly. Too large a facility will be off-putting to attendees and make the event feel under-attended. Too small a facility will be noisy and make guests feel constricted.

You also need to consider access and parking. Attendees need to be able to find your location quickly, without complicated directions and have easy, inexpensive parking. 

Also consider the style of your location. If you want a more intimate, casual atmosphere you can choose an outside, garden-type location or a home or club to serve as your venue. However, if your company is sponsoring the event or you need a very business-like environment, think hotel convention-type accommodations or even a large open area in the corporations offices. 

Notify Attendees in Advance

Good turnout always requires advanced notification. If attendees get the impression you've thrown the event together at the last minute, it won't create a since of excitement or anticipation. Use an online evite service to announce your event quickly and generate excitement ahead of time.

Be sure to follow-up with personal calls to some of the key people you want to attend to ensure their presence in the networking group. If your event needs a formal invitation, start with the evite and follow it with a formal, mailed invitation--then utilize the evite reminder system to remind guests of the date and time as you get closer to the day. 

Stay on Budget

With both your location, decorations and food/beverage choices, pay strict attention to costs. Food is not mandatory, but if you have food make sure you provide a high quality product that won't run out before your event does. Decorations should be in the form of tasteful decor and small meeting spaces so attendees can break off into smaller groups for more one-on-one conversations. Over-the-top theme decorations are not appropriate.

Make Check-in/Registration Count

As your guests check in, provide them with name tags and valuable information on people that are already in attendance they might be interested in meeting. Also take the opportunity to verify their information for your records. Plan to work quickly and use the time to generate enthusiasm for the evening.

Plan to Connect Your Guests

It's a great idea to meet with a couple of "point people" you trust that can help you circulate throughout the room and introduce people to each other. Even though guests are attending to network, they may not be as savvy at it as they need to be. Make your event is memorable for them by creating an environment that makes meeting new people easy.