Networking is a huge part of creating business relationships. These days it’s more common for people to get jobs and make connections through who you know than it is through a job site or less personal means of communication. That’s why meeting people in the industry means so much now more than ever before.
You might be wondering why you should host a networking event. It seems like a lot of work, but the benefits greatly outweigh the time you invest in preparing for the event. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a great way to showcase your business
when you’re hosting the event. You will also have the opportunity to learn about other local businesses in your area which can lead to making connections or forming long-lasting partnerships. From a social standpoint, it’s also a great way to make friends.
Another benefit is that networking events are a fantastic, informal setting to meet candidates who are interested in joining your team. If a candidate takes the time to come to your event, it shows they are willing to go the extra mile and particularly interested in a position at your company. It will save you time down the road in your interview process when you have already had an introduction to the candidate.
OK good, you’re convinced and you’re ready to host a networking event! Where do you start? First, pick a theme or a purpose for your event. If you’re stuck at this first step, a ‘brain dump’ is the perfect way to start. Simply write down a list of ideas, even if they sound far-fetched or difficult to coordinate. Think of themes that are important to your business or company culture. Taking the time to consider all your options will help you land on a theme that everyone is excited about.
Once you’ve decided on the ‘why’, the next task is to set the ‘where’ and ‘when.’ The venue doesn’t necessarily have to be somewhere fancy or formal, a simple, low key setting that you have access to will be sufficient. We love to use our office because it serves as a great conversation-starter and leads to people inquiring about what we do. Just make sure there’s enough space and seating for your estimated guest count.
Now that you know where and when to invite your guests, the next phase of the planning process is to add something to draw people in. It’s effective to have a giveaway to get people in the door, we often serve beer - free beer never fails! We find a balance between securing some awesome sponsors and investing a small amount of money to make sure there are some cool perks for our guests.
After coordinating the event swag, it’s time to spread the word! We use the website Eventbrite because it’s well-known in Atlanta and easy to use. Make sure you make the event description interesting so that potential guests will be excited to attend. We then, of course, share the Eventbrite link on all our social media channels to invite people to attend.
On event night, it’s all hands on deck. We communicate amongst our team on a Google doc that details everyone’s responsibilities. Make sure you have a good crew for set-up and clean-up to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
When all is said and done, it’s so important to follow up with any of the connections you made. What good is a networking event if you don’t actually expand your network? If you collected business cards, send emails thanking them for attending, or find them on a social platform to reinforce the connection. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by carving out the time to reach out to people.
We just closed our fifth Double Tap the Keg networking event, and you can read about our recap here. We hope to see you at future networking events and wish you luck if you decide to host your own!
Story By: Sophie Duncan