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Tag archives for event promotion

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 »

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.

In the Los Angeles area several groups hold networking events for technology and media companies. However, Cliff and a couple friends created free LINC events to fill a specific need in L.A., so these co-organizers hosted these local digital and software bizdev events.

If you are involved in guiding or managing some aspect of a digital media or software company you’ll want to come meet others like you. Be sure to RSVP now because we’re quickly approaching the limit on the number of people that the location can handle. (After you RSVP you’ll be able to see who else is coming.)
If you would like to host casual networking events like this for people in your industry, here are the guidelines we’ve followed:

  • Find a location that’s easy for most people to get to.
  • Make sure parking is convenient and as inexpensive as possible.
  • Choose a venue that will provide a large, open meeting area – and has good food.
  • Recruit one or more sponsors who will pay for the venue and food so you won’t have to charge admission.
  • Invite people in a narrow enough industry or sector that it’s likely that everyone would like to meet each other.

Here in the Los Angeles community we are fortunate to have a large number of high-tech and “new media” companies. However, in other industries and regions it may be difficult to find a large cluster of people in your industry to invite.

If this happens, encourage every person you invite to use the “Send Invitation to Friend” form on the event web page to invite people they know. Take advantage of the connectedness of your community to attract a larger group of people who will all be glad you organized the event.

One of the benefits of the Internet is that it’s helped us become aware of how the large issues in the world affect us. At the same time, it’s become more frustrating when we try to take action and “make a difference” to improve things.

How many times have you sent a YouTube link about an important issue to your contact list — then wondered if the video made a difference in how they act? The same frustration happens when trying to use social networking sites like Facebook to made a difference.

So, how do you really make a difference on the key issues you’re concerned about? Face-to-face with the people you want to influence.

When you interact with people face-to-face you have an excellent opportunity to answer their questions immediately, as well as grow your relationships with them.

For example, if you’re concerned about the environment, help your friends and associates understand your concern. Annie Leonard has created a 20 minute video on the “Story of Stuff” that you can use to host a house party in your home or present at a local organization.

She also provides a complete set of communications tools, including a discussion guide, group activities, and a list of ways individuals can make a difference in advancing sustainability.

When your organization publicizes a public event, remember to select the category “Green/Sustainability” on the event description form. This helps publicize your event in three ways.

  1. It helps people find your event in calendars of local events.
  2. Your event can be included in a weekly newsletter that’s sent to people who want to know about sustainable and green events in their area.
  3. Your event will be automatically included on other Web sites that use the event registration database of sustainable and green events.

Using online websites to publicize events is just one of the ways you can use the Internet to make a difference in your community — and the world.

It seems that after attending a meeting or event, we come away feeling that there was more benefit in the networking than the presentations.

Every conference organizer tries their best to make every speaker relevant and beneficial for the audience, but frequently it just doesn’t turn out that way. I’ve been on plenty of conference planning committees – and have presented at lots of conferences and monthly meetings – so I’ve experienced the frustration from both sides.

The authors of We Have Always Done It That Way feel the same way:

Ask any conference attendee where the value is and you will most likely here, “in the hallways” or “at the social functions”. Why? Because this is the place where real-time business issues can be addressed.

They have some good ideas for helping attendees solve current problems by using the Web to improve networking before, during, and after a conference or event. They also have some good ideas on how to learn about attendee needs so speakers can present more of what the audience is looking for.

For us in event promotion, improving the benefits of an event gives us more to tell prospective attendees – and improves the likelihood that those who attend will come again in the future.

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