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Archives for Event Organizer Tips

As a communications strategist, I recognized a big problem among our entrepreneurial clients — they needed a matchmaker to help them find the right partners, investors, clients and staff members.  My husband and I owned a high tech marketing agency and the need for productive networking was palpable, but the technology wasn’t there yet.  This is the time for smartphone enabled business networking

Our MatchUp (TM) solution that combines the Event Organizer with the Smart Phone & Computer System helps Attendees match with each other at the event.  We help sort out compatibilities with the algorithm.  The Organizer narrows the search with parameters… and the Attendee can fine tune their profiles to find the match they need today!

But the human factor is so important.  You can be matched with the perfectly compatible person, but if you do not engage in a meaningful conversation and then followup, your experience is useless.

Based on our experiences at networking and event organizing over the years, we’ve learned these tips for networking at events:

  1.  Know who you want to meet
  2.  Ask for referrals from people who know you…
  3.  Follow up, follow up, follow up

Know who you want to meet

Who do you need today to make progress in your job or your career?  Do you need a partner, an investor, clients or staff members?  Do you need someone part-time or full-time?  Know what you are looking for — the function in your life — and who the most likely candidates are.  That profile shapes YOUR profile!

Ask for Referrals 

If you don’t have a networking system available, use the old-fashioned one — ask for referrals.  But be specific and ask for the most common two or three attributes you need to find.  Your referrer needs to ask the right questions and give a bit of your information to help make a human match.

Follow up!

Following up is about making a business friendship.  It’s about learning more about each other and learning to trust one another’s judgment.  And it’s a long process to develop a really good contact.  Try to meet again soon.  Go for coffee together or meet at the next group meeting you have in common.  Send email.  Connect in social media and send short messages that might be of value to your contact.

Don’t overwhelm your new business contact, but connecting 3 or 4 times in the first month of your relationship can solidify your interest in them and flesh out the value that you bring to their life — and vice versa!

Make your business friendship friendly.  Don’t fall into gripes about your industry or colleagues.  Do promote positive ideas about how to make life better for both of you.  And share tidbits of helpful knowledge.  This is how trust is born and nurtured.

Successful networking!
Carolyn

Meeting people at networking events is a great way to grow your professional network of connections — plus increase the frequency of visiting with people you already know.
People who share a common interest, problem, or profession benefit from spending face-to-face time with like-minded people.
You know networking is great — however, there are times when you can’t find a well-matched networking group near you that meets your needs.
Solve this networking dilemma — when there’s no networking group near you, start one.

Benefits of starting a networking group

Starting and running a networking group is a lot of work, so you need to think about how you will not only spend the time necessary, but benefit from your time investment.
A few years ago a few friends and I started a networking group because we wanted to network with other entrepreneurs like us, and there was no group in our area. Some people start a networking group to turn it into a business, while others start a networking group that’s part of their existing business. And yes, some want the social benefits.

The three Ps of a networking group

There are the essential ingredients to a successful networking group:

  • Purpose — How will attendees benefit from attending meetings and making new contacts? Is there a “passion” that will encourage participation?
  • People — What common interest or need will hold your community together?
  • Place — Where will your networking group meet that attendees will find comfortable and convenient?
  • Promotion — How will you reach out to new people in the area who share an interest in the networking group’s purpose for meeting?

Mission and purpose

Here are several leadership questions that will help you create a clear picture of what your networking group will accomplish:

  • What interest will your attendees and members have in common?
  • How will people benefit by attending your networking events?
  • How will people meet new contacts that will lead to beneficial relationships?

There are a wide variety of networking groups, such as:

  • Business and social networking group — People who want to socialize and form relationships with others in their specific profession or industry.
  • Networking leads and referral group Salespeople and business development people who work together to help their customers.
  • Job leads group — People who share job opportunities with others who are looking for a job.

In addition to helping the people who attend your networking meetings, think about how you will benefit, too. It takes a lot of time and work to start and run a networking group, and you need to think about how you will benefit from taking on this leadership role. If you don’t receive a reasonable return on your invested time and money – chances are you will burn out before the group can reach critical mass.
Networking needs people
Every networking group needs several types of people:

  • Founders — People who lead, plan, and recruit others to attend.
  • Supporters — People who help the networking group grow and thrive by inviting their contacts to meetings, making introduction, and, in some cases, sponsor networking meetings and special events.
  • Attendees — People who attend the meetings, participate, and engage with other who are looking to network and create mutually beneficial relationships.

Networking groups need programs

Many networking groups get started with the idea that people will just naturally attend and mingle and meet people. This can work well in the early days when the founders and supporters invite people they know and who have a core shared interest in socializing.
However, as the group grows, it helps to have a “program” that attracts new people to attend. Each meeting’s program also shapes and develops the common interest of the people attending each meeting — new people know that those who share an interest in the programs topic will attend.
The typical program at most networking groups, association chapters, and other interest groups is a guest speaker from outside the group. However, there are several other types of program formats, such as:

  • Featured member presentation
  • Every attendee makes a mini-presentation
  • Every attendee participates in a “speed networking” activity where everyone meets everyone else one-to-one

Places to network

Finding a location for a new networking group to meet is usually easy, but it becomes more difficult as the group attracts more attendees.
New networking groups normally start by meeting at free locations, such as:

  • Conference room at a member’s office
  • Coffee shop
  • Restaurant
  • Lobby of a large hotel

An example of location used by a lot of small and casual networking groups is their nearest Panera Bread location. Their locations have plenty of room, good coffee and snacks, and free WiFi!
Free locations like these allow a networking group to avoid charging for attendance. Each person just pays for whatever they eat or drink.
However, as the number of people who attend increases, it will become necessary to contract with venues that handle larger meetings and events. This means that the organizers need to pay for the room, and for the food and drinks provided to attendees. And, this means that attendees need to pay to attend the networking events. Collecting fees can be handled by either having people register online before the event or pay at the door.

Promoting a networking group’s meetings

Networking groups thrive when there is a mix of regular attendees who frequently attend plus new, interested people at each event — and this takes promotion.
Some networking groups try to promote their meetings by just posting a notice on their Web event calendar and sending a personal e-mail to the people in their contact list. This doesn’t work well because it usually doesn’t reach a significant number of people who might attend, and it doesn’t remind people frequently enough to break through the clutter of media overload.
The very best way to promote a networking event to your core participants is to send several e-mails to everyone who has attended in the past. The easiest way to do this is to use an online meeting promotion and RSVP service, such as SureToMeet.
Networking groups need to attract new people to attend, participate, and become loyal members. This is effectively achieved by promoting the group’s meetings and events in several ways:

  • Referrals — Make it easy for previous attendees to invite their friends and associates.
  • Social media — Post announcements on social media sites where like-minded followers and friends can click through to the event Web page and RSVP.
  • Traditional and online media — Post announcements on Web calendar sites, and send announcements to local newspapers with calendar sections.
  • Sign-up form — Make it easy for people to subscribe to your meeting notices with an online registration form.

Planning the new networking group

Each of the start-up elements of starting and growing a networking group has a lot of details, so to make your networking debut easier for you, we’ve created an interactive planning tool for starting and running a networking group. Just start at the top level of the interactive mind map, and drill down to the specific action items and tasks that will help you create your networking group’s meetings and events.

Read more »

Big events used to be a great way to pull people together, motivate them, and update them on new information. Corporations held large internal meetings. And, industry associations held large annual conventions for their members.

However, the low cost of the Internet and the high cost of convention halls, hotels, and airlines – plus the lost productivity – has resulted in a decrease in the number of those huge corporate events and week-long industry conferences.

Seth Godin questions big event value

Seth Godin sparked a conversation on the Web on whether big events are still valuable. He was referring to large events such as product introductions, but the meeting/event industry used his piece to discuss the challenges of their industry.

And, the meetings and events industry that produces large events is facing some big challenges. I can name almost a dozen large conferences I used to attend that don’t exist anymore. And, many other large events just aren’t so large these days,
For example, a few weeks ago I attended a large industry association conference in Las Vegas to help a startup company research a manufacturing technology. Not being from that industry, we needed to get up to speed quickly, meet vendors selling that technology, and evaluate the technology.

Unfortunately, the conference had no educational sessions on this small, emerging technology. So, we met with the handful of vendors – whose booths were scattered across multiple buildings. And, since attendance at the show was down the people in the booths had plenty a time to talk with us.

It turned out that it would have been much more productive and inexpensive for us to attend a day-long seminar with presentations by just these vendors.

Replacing conventions and big conferences

What’s replacing those huge conventions and conferences? Two things.

  • First, of course, is the Internet. Initially, e-mail discussion groups and forums provided information more quickly than trade magazines and annual conferences. Today, webinars and self-paced e-learning deliver information and education where and when you need it.
  • Second, local/regional meetings and events provide an easy and inexpensive way to meet with likeminded people face-to-face more frequently than at annual conferences. In addition, the quality of presentations at local groups and chapter meetings is frequently as valuable as those at large national conferences.
  • Facebook is launching internal corporate networking to replace emails. “Workplace by Facebook” will be a paid service, Facebook’s FIRST paid service, that charges a monthly fee for enterprise-grade security and administration of the system that allows corporate employees to collaborate, news feed with posts, and live video as well as share documents.

The big, expensive conferences will survive on lower attendance. They just won’t be so big and expensive.

Local events & meetings

Expect to see a lot more local groups and organizations produce high-quality meetings and events around the narrow, specific interests of their members – which will reduce the need to fly off to large conventions.




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People attend meeting and events over and over again because they feel they receive value from attending each time. Once they attend a few meetings and don’t feel that they benefited they quit attending.
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It’s no secret that we all act that way. What seems to be a secret to many groups and organizations is how to deliver the “value” that members and volunteers are seeking.

During her Lazy Leader Road Show, Cynthia D’Amour shared how to attract (and retain) members by appealing to their “hot buttons.” People who attend meetings are looking for some combination of these attributes:

  • Personal/professional development
  • Make a difference
  • Be part of a community

Every organization is different, so each organization’s members look for different combinations of these attributes.

Chapters of professional organizations rely more on professional development than a business networking mixer group. But, both types of organizations have the same challenge — to deliver the “value” that meets the needs of members in these three areas.

One of the problems that event organizers constantly face is finding good, inexpensive meeting locations.

We started hosting a free monthly networking event here in Los Angeles and faced this problem ourselves.

One of the people helping start our networking group suggested that we meet in the lobby/bar of a large hotel because it has plenty of room for a group to network, it’s easy for everyone to find the building, and is usually not very busy. It turns out that it’s not easy to find a large hotel lobby/bar that can easily hold 100-150 people, but after visiting several hotels we found a good venue for our networking events.

We originally wanted a lobby/bar to avoid the costs of a meeting room while we started the networking group – especially since it’s free to attend our networking events! It turns out that there are other benefits, too. It’s easy for everyone to find our networking group when they arrive, the chairs and couches are comfortable for groups to sit and chat, and we attract people who are in the hotel for other meetings and events.

So, when you need a place for a group to meet, consider a nearby hotel lobby.

The Web-based webinar has become a popular way to make a presentation to people no matter where they are. However, online webinars have gotten a bad reputation – audience members do other tasks during webinars, and some people say they have left the room while a webinar is in progress.

Since SureToMeet provides event registration services for organizations holding both in-person meetings and online webinars, we have an interest in organizations having successful webinars!

Improving the webinar experience

It has become so easy and inexpensive to hold a webinar that it’s easy to neglect the event planning and content preparation that’s essential for a quality webinar experience. So, we created a free, interactive webinar planning tool as a source of “webinar best practices.” These webinar planning ideas can help all webinar producers improve their webinar results.

Just start at the top level and click down to the specific action items and tasks that will help you produce a successful and beneficial webinar.

Read more »

Over the last few years there has been tremendous growth in the number of meetings and events in every city and tour in the country.

Some of this growth has come from local chapters of professional association adding special interest group meetings and “satellite” group meetings in outlying areas.

However, the biggest growth in the number of local meetings and events has come from individuals starting their own group or organization. These local groups are holding public festivals in neighborhoods, monthly networking meetings at bars and restaurants, and conducting educational seminars at a wide range of meeting locations.

It’s hard work to create a group and its series of ongoing meetings and events. But the riskiest part is marketing an event. You know who a speaker will be and where you’re going to hold an event, but you don’t know who will attend.

Effective promotion reduces risk

The best way to reduce the risk and uncertainty of holding an event is to use the most effective event promotion techniques possible.

For event organizers who are on Facebook this means sending an e-mail to your contacts. But, for many association chapters and local groups their members aren’t on the typical social networks. And, many organizations hold public events, such as street festivals, where it’s not practical to obtain e-mail addresses from attendees.

With so many more opportunities to attend local events and meeting, it has become harder for an event organizer to attract the number of attendees needed for a successful event. This is creating a special challenge for local chapters of professional associations that typically charge an annual membership fee in addition to a registration fee to attend the monthly meetings.

Increase event promotion to attract more attendees

For an upcoming talk (50 Ways to Promote a Local Event) I looked back at every event I’ve helped promote to identity the 50 best event promotion tips and techniques. The illustration shows the interactive event promotion mind map that I created for event organizers.

The mind map allows an event organizer to turn on or off the promotional techniques that are appropriate for each of their organization’s meeting and special events. A mind map is also a good place to store notes, links to vendors, and create project/task lists.

To cover most types of local events, I divided the “50 Best” list into these sections:

Over the next several weeks I’ll share the detailed event promotion techniques, along with examples, from all of these sections.

As you plan the promotion for your upcoming events, consider using new techniques to increase attendance and improve the experience for your existing members.

Here in Los Angeles many people on the business side of technology companies have attended the Santa Monica area LINC Face-to-Face business networking events over the past several years. These stand-up mixers have helped entrepreneurs and executives at technology companies meet people like themselves, which helps grow the community.


We expanded LINC with small breakfast and lunch networking meetings for business development people at local technology companies. LINC BizDev meetings were designed to help bizdev people tell their company’s story to their peers so everyone can work together in growing our community.


If your bizdev person is looking for more business networking opportunities, have them request an invitation to local networking meetings in your area. And if you are a potential sponsor of face-to-face events, connect with a highly connected networker and propose starting a bizdev group in your community.

The easiest and most effective way to share a community or political message with their friends is to buy a copy of a relevant DVD and hold a house party. Inviting friends and associates over to watch it together, followed by a group discussion, reaches people who wouldn’t have paid to see the documentary in theaters. For example Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” used house parties to spread the word about environmental issues.

It you decide to host a house party showing of “An Inconvenient Truth” there are plenty of resources online to help you:

If you hold a house party to show a documentary post comments to your social media pages and let your network know how well it went.

An event organizer has many jobs, but the one that probably causes the most anxiety is event promotion. I know I feel it every time we put on an event. While your own e-mail list is the best source of registrations, it’s great to get registrations from people who have never attended one of your events.
One technique is to use search engine optimization (SEO) to attract searchers to your event description page. The challenge that most organizations face is their Web site can’t get ranked high enough in search engines to matter.

There are two main components to successful SEO: page content and incoming links. It’s relatively easy to optimize the content of an event page, but it’s very hard to get enough links to the organization’s Web site to rank high in the search engines.

A solution is to add your event to the SureToMeet event calendar because our whole site is search engine optimized. For example, SureToMeet automatically creates up to five links to your event that are fed to search engines within hours. In several recent tests every event we tested showed up on the first page of search engines, while the organization’s own site ranked much further down.

For organizations that use SureToMeet’s online event management, SEO promotion is provided automatically for public events. For organizations that use their own online event registration process, they can add their events to the event calendars for free and have the same SEO advantage in the search engines.

Like our slogan says, we want to help organizations bring people together face-to-face at events, seminars, and meetings.

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