BreakingModern — Everyone knows networking is one of the most-important things you can do to advance your career. But what if all the events and networking clubs in your area are a little, how do we say it … lame?
Don’t let your hometown hold you back. If you can’t find a networking event that works for you, create one! It may sound a little intimidating. Don’t worry — we’ll help you put it together.
Know Your Audience
Before you send out a single invite, you have to identify who will benefit from attending your event. Be specific. Perhaps you want to introduce “creatives” under 40 in your community, or get together people in your city’s growing startup scene. Know exactly whom you’re trying to bring together, and it will be easier to build your guest list and communicate to invitees why they should show up.
Don’t go it Alone
Now that you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to invite your first round of guests: trusted acquaintances in the field who will help you put the event together. You’ll need a crew to help you send out invites, greet guests and work the room. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but hosting has its perks. As a host, it’s your job to make sure people are having a good time. That means you can walk up to anyone in the room — even the bigwigs — and introduce yourself. It’s a great way to take your networking to the next level.
Build Your Guest List
By tapping your networks, you and your co-hosts will likely have a good amount of names for your event’s invite list. Ask your guests to spread the word and use Facebook or Meetup to track replies. Signing up for LinkedIn premium will allow you to invite people beyond your initial networks. (Please don’t be spammy! Nobody wants spam.)
Secure a Location
Reach out to venues that embody the vibe of the event you’re looking to host. If you’re attracting creatives, find a funky bar that will offer your group happy hour prices. If your event is a more buttoned-up affair, a swanky restaurant with a private room might be a better choice. For the best price, contact places that have recently opened in your area. They might cut you a deal in exchange for the exposure.
Thank Everyone for Coming
After your attendees have had time to get settled, grab a microphone (or just stand on a chair) and take a minute to thank everyone for attending. Introduce yourself, your co-hosts and briefly describe what you hope people will get out of the event. Tell your guests you are more than welcome to make introductions, and that they should feel free to approach you with any feedback about the party. This is a great icebreaker and it helps set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Get the Next Event on the Calendar
Your party was a huge success — keep the momentum going! Let your guests know how they can keep tabs on your group’s next event. Point them to your Facebook or Meetup page, or invite them to follow the group on Twitter. Have a box where people can drop their business cards. It’s more work, but it might be worth it to email everyone once you get the next event on the calendar.