By Michael
Aldridge
– General Manager of Merlin Events

With
clients being time poor, they will be very selective with which events they will go to and the day of supplying a glass of wine and
nibbles in a meeting room of a hotel have long gone for networking events.  Here are my top ten ideas for delivering a
successful networking event:

1. Choose the right venue – Why
would your guests want to come?
Is it topical, engaging and will it
appeal to your guests? Knowing what your guests like is key. A unique venue
with a temporary attraction ie the V&A’s recent Hollywood Dress exhibition
is a great example or Madame Tussauds which always has topical installations
i.e. One Direction.

2. How many
guests will be coming – is the space flexible?
It can be
very hard to work out how many guests will come. There are so many factors out
of your control, however some are not i.e are there any large sporting events
on? Any strikes likely? Kids off school? Find out if the venue has adaptive spaces so you can ensure you are not losing atmosphere or your guests are not crammed in like sardines in a tin!

3. Get the times right – Most
client’s finish work about 5.45pm so start the event as near as possible to
this. About 6.30pm is a good time and keep it short.  Clients are more likely to come if they know
that the event will be finished by 8.30pm.

4. It’s all about location,
location

– as a Kirsty and Phil would say is everything and it’s the same with a venue.
If it’s near a tube station with easy access to major train stations clients
are more likely to come.  Ideally stick
within areas that are well established, the “up & coming” areas may work
for a young media type group but it will put off some types of clients i.e.
large corporates.

5. Perfect the right menu – Most
clients grab a sandwich at their desk at lunch. If you want to encourage guests
to stay then offer substantial food that is easily eaten.  It should also be easy to eat ideally in one
mouthful. Read our blog from Food by Dish on how to choose the best networking
canapés for your event. You also need to communicate what food you are serving on the invitation. You
need to bribe guests to come!

6. Offer some unusual drinks – Offer some
unusual soft drink options not everyone wants to stagger home on a school
night.  However, for the drinkers offer
something a bit more creative than wine and beer.  How about the new Pimms with Blackberry and
Elderflower, make the drinks part of the event, a talking point not a prop. Read our blog on the best summer cocktails for some inspiration.

7. Pick the right entertainment
– Try not to put a compilation CD on, the volume and tempo is NEVER right.  Have a lounge DJ who can orchestrate the vibe
of the party/networking. Top Entertainment agency Sternberg Clarke have also given you the best tips in how to break the ice with entertainment for networking events in our blog

8. Is it clear your invitation is an invite?  Does it
look appealing? Have you added a start and finish time?  Have you stated food and drink are being
served (ideally stating substantial food).
The key question is would it make you want to come?

9. Manage your RSVPs
– manage the list and connect with guests via LinkedIn. Call guests pre event
to make sure they are coming.  Maybe send
the menu the day before to entice them and to act as a reminder.

10. Make sure your networking is up to scratch
– Do you have the right skills to network?
Do some research pre event.  Have
a look at the guest list and focus on ten clients maybe have a few opening
lines.  Research the client’s via
LinkedIn.   Keep an eye on our blog the next few days as we will be posting more content on how to become the best networker in town.

Bonus tip – my pet
hate!
 Don’t under any circumstance do “goody bags” if you thinking of putting
a pen, brochure or pack of mints in them!

You don’t have to go crazy and put in jewellery, items of designer wear or weekends in luxury hotels but just remember a goody bag is tedious, you spend money on something the client
will not appreciate. A small box of chocolates or Chocolate Brownies is
ideal as the client can use them as a bribe as they arrive home to their family or housemates!

This blog was written on Wednesday 10th July 2013


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