Going to networking events as well as hosting them can be quite stressful, as the guests will all be professionals, creating a more focussed atmosphere. It is key to arrange activities and opportunities for your guests to discuss their products and services. Many networking events that are not industry-specific will have potential clients who may be interested in contacting you at a later date to talk about your products and services. Even if you don’t meet many potential clients, networking events are a great opportunity to learn more about business opportunities in the local area that may be worth pursuing.
As host, your role is providing your guests with the opportunity to discuss what they do and meet new people. The reason that networking events can be difficult to arrange is that most of the time your guests will not know each other well. For more introverted personalities this can make it hard to get the ball rolling. In order to prevent the event from stagnating, organising activities to encourage communication can be a great way to break the ice and get your guests chatting.
Why is networking Important?
Networking events are crucial for businesses and individuals to gain professional contacts within their industry. Having a good network is a great way to advance your career; being well known as a good person to work with means that those who have worked with you before may recommend you to others, or consider hiring you if they have an opening on their team.
Long term business relationships take time and effort to create and maintain, but many start off with meetings at networking events or industry meetings. Getting your name out there so that it is recognisable to others in the industry is key to ensuring that your profile is raised. Having a more recognisable name and business is great for your practice, as it means you will likely gain more leads. Your network can also help you if you need a service (such as a caterer or a website created) by recommending a company to you.
When organising a networking event it is important to consider a number of factors in order to ensure the evening runs smoothly. Remember, the networking event will be for professionals looking to make connections, rather than a party, so keep in mind the more business orientated atmosphere when planning.
Here are a few ideas for what should be on your checklist when you are planning a networking event:
- Venue – Many venues will have specific function rooms and options for conferences and will have a good idea of what needs to be put in place before the event. Knowing the number of invited guests when booking a function room will help you narrow down which venues and function rooms you should be looking at to help cover the number of guests invited. Many venues will have a minimum and maximum number of guests for each function room and will be able to guide you towards an option that can cover the needs of your networking event.
- Menu – Most networking events are geared towards guests being free to converse with as many people as possible, so remaining mobile is important. For this reason, buffet style food arrangements or crudités are a better option than a sit-down meal, as your guests will be able to network more effectively.
- Drinks – When serving drinks make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic options available, as with professional events it is generally better to drink in moderation. Many of your guests will likely stick with lemonade rather than a cocktail. While serving wine is a good option, it is better to be conservative with estimates as the guests will not be drinking very much. Serving wine is often a better option for these events as most people will take their time over each glass.
- Transport – This is especially important if you are going to be serving alcoholic beverages during the networking event. Consider where the closest taxi ranks and train stations are from your selected venue, and whether they are within walking distance. If not, arranging for taxis to take your guests home from the venue will keep things streamlined and organised.
- Accommodation – If the event is for local businesses, then looking for guest accommodation won’t be necessary. However, if a lot of your guests have travelled quite far to attend it is a good idea to have accommodation suggestions ready and waiting. If your venue has accommodation services such as holiday let or guest rooms, asking them to put aside a certain number for your guests can help things run smoothly.
In order to arrange a networking event that allows the professionals in the room to discuss their company and what they as an individual can provide to prospective clients, it is important to organise activities or events that will help the guests to mingle. Setting up presentations by different industry leaders can be a great way to begin the evening and give your guests a chance to make connections.
It is important to include a range of different personalities within the event who are good communicators, to get the ball rolling. This is especially true if some of your guests are less practised with networking events. Fun activities, such as jars filled with conversation prompts, creating brainstorming games or arranging a Q & A event, are great ways to encourage conversation with other participants.
If you are considering organising a networking event with One Warwick Park Hotel, then please contact us here. Our hotel has numerous function rooms perfect for a networking event, as well as a delicious array of drinks for your guests to sample. If you need help with organising your event our staff will be delighted to assist you.