Business events are a great way to promote your business and find new clients and leads – but if they’re organized badly, they can cause lasting damage to your brand’s reputation.
Today, we’ve put together a five-step guide to organizing the perfect business event, as we offer tips on invitations, hospitality, scheduling, and following up. Read on to find out more!
The most important thing about hosting a business event is that you can invite and chat with the right business contacts. Perhaps you’re a recruitment firm and want to find some new leads, or maybe you’re a marketing agency and need to spread the word about your new services? Create a hit-list of potential attendees, and invite them online, over the phone, or in person. Not everyone is going to be free or will want to attend, so invite two to three times as many people as you can comfortably accommodate to ensure a good turnout on the day.
One of the biggest reasons why business events fail is through a lack of promotion. If you don’t send out the invitations until a week before the event, people are simply going to be too busy and won’t be able to commit to a half-day off of work. By scheduling an event two or even three months in advance, you can send out invites, send reminders and follow up with people you’ve yet to hear back from. There’s a risk that if you advertise too early, people will forget about your event, so find the right balance and remember that promotion is critical.
Whether you’re planning a simple networking event or a day-long speaking event, remember to think about food and drink. Every single part of the day, including your nibbles and drinks, will reflect on your business, so if you’ve only opened a packet of biscuits and made a pot of tea, businesses and consumers will think you’re stingy. Consider hiring relief chefs to put together something special in your kitchen, and think about dietary requirements so that everyone has something to tuck into. The last thing you want is for someone to go without.
Don’t leave people hanging around when they turn up to your event – make sure you have a clear itinerary and book in speakers and activities so that everyone has something to do. It’s all too common that businesses set up networking coffee mornings, but they’re awkward and can be easily disjointed. By setting a rota and plan of action, you’ll be able to keep an event running smoothly and ensure everyone is comfortable and suitably entertained at all times.
Once the event wraps up, ask for business cards and email addresses if you don’t already have them, and follow up every attendee with an email or phone call. Even if you don’t think you’re going to become long-term business partners or you don’t think they’re interested in your products or services, it’s professional and courteous to reach out. Remember that every business contact has value, even if you don’t realise it yet.