Four tips for a successful networking event
Plan ahead. Before anything else, you must make basic decisions in the planning stage. What type of event will you hold? Which partners will you approach? How long will the meeting last? What would be your ideal number of participants? All of these questions, and more, need to be answered before the first signature is made. In addition, don’t forget to create a timeline (and follow it) and produce a communication or marketing plan that will help you get the word out.
- Adopt a networking format. When you think about it, the most interesting meetings, the ones that turn into deals, don’t necessarily take place over lunch or drinks. In these circumstances, participants don’t always know who to approach, don’t know how to “sell” themselves and end up wasting a considerable amount of time navigating this uncertainty. A networking platform will help participants plan their meetings and prepare adequately. This increases their chances of turning meetings into real business opportunities.
- Target partners in sync with the purpose of your event and identify companies that will get a good return on their investment in exchange for their financial involvement. At the same time, target VIPs, such as major buyers, original equipment manufacturers or recognized experts. This will make participants all the more eager to register. To attract VIPs or valuable partners, make sure their experience is unforgettable. In addition to being available, offer them support from the networking platform’s technology provider. If necessary, make sure they receive personalized training on how it works and that they have all the help they need to use their time efficiently. To this end, schedule all their meetings at the same table or in the same virtual room so they don’t have to travel from one meeting to another: thoughtfulness they will appreciate. Don’t forget to keep their contact information confidential, so you can provide them with a safe and private networking environment, and give them the option to end certain contacts after the event. On another note, surround yourself with professionals who will enhance your event with their skills, such as a communication or IT professional.
- Coach those who need it throughout the event. Some people will be very resourceful, but many will want to be supported in their journey. Offer them the opportunity to connect with an expert via email, phone or instant messaging to receive the coaching they need. Make sure that this coaching is available before, during and after the event. If a great number of meetings are planned between participants, but most of them do not take place, your event will not be successful. You need an attendance record for each meeting, as well as a system to alert latecomers or no-shows. Participants often forget (yes, even if they register!) and a meeting can be saved through coaching. Worst-case scenario, if a person is stood up, they will at least have the benefit of having been coached by a representative who will offer them other alternatives at the time.
A virtual, hybrid or face-to-face networking event?
No matter what type of event you are hosting, get the best technology. A tool like the B2B/2GO platform is a true ally for the organization of networking events. Here’s an overview of what it can do for you:
- Help in project management, including task and budget tracking.
- Networking of participants through comprehensive profiles and accurate search tools, powered by efficient algorithms.
- Participant profiles with personal information, corporate descriptions, hyperlinks, documents and videos.
- Engine responsiveness to help participants identify in a few seconds their interests among a list of keywords relevant to the industry
- Powerful search engine identifying at first sight the potential customers or partners identified by the platform and allowing the user to be autonomous during the queries, thanks to a powerful database offering different sortings, filters and lists.
- Human interaction both in terms of technical support (B2B/2GO Customer Service) and the event itself (referrals made by a key individual who knows the type of participants). Using a manual referral tool, the key person can email profiles to specific target audiences.
- This tool provides various functionalities, notably with respect to the planning of meetings: selection of precise times, respect of availability, automatic adaptation of time zones, flexibility of the type of presence (virtual or face-to-face) and alerts on the platform and by email.
In conclusion, hosting a successful networking event is certainly a matter of competence, but also of adequate tools and human contacts. One thing is certain: a technology platform will undoubtedly save you a lot of time and money, to your great satisfaction, but also to that of your partners and participants who will only benefit from what you offer them. Need help with your next networking event? Call on B2B/2GO’s experts, professional consultants and trusted partners.