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Are Your Business Networking Events Adding Value?

8 Sep 2017
Aaron Neill

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept of business networking events. We’ve all attended or hosted events under the pretence that they will be a successful business tool. But in many cases it just doesn’t work out that way.

With such busy lives everyone’s time is scarce and we need to eek out every possible shred of value from our day, so to waste it at yet another event is counter productive

We recently hosted a couple of very successful events so we thought we’d have a look into what makes a successful event and how you could benefit from a different perspective on your next event.

People buy from people

You will have heard the old adage ‘people buy from people’ and this hasn’t changed. Certainly in our business people are the vital component of any transaction, so keep this in mind when you are planning your event. Don’t start by thinking we need to have an event, what do WE think would be interesting? Find out from a few of your closest clients what they might find valuable, chances are others in the industry will too.

As a marketing tool, client events shouldn’t be about direct sales. It is understandable, especially when you’re the budget holder, for you to expect some kind of return as an event operator but it’s important to think about the longer term. 

In todays interconnected world of business, building strong, meaningful relationships are paramount. But you won’t build and create these relationships if you just open up your black book and invite your usual rent-a-crowd to your event. Just as you want to achieve something from your event, so do you attendees.

So think about commonality in your invite list. Will the people you invite be able to relate to the others in the room? Will they be able to establish meaningful business connections with others?

Get creative

Attracting the right people to attend isn’t an easy task. When you get numerous event invites from a range of suppliers and you actually have a day job to do it has to be something special to encourage your audience to attend.

So, going back to our core principles, start by adding value. There are key topics within the industry people will want to hear about that will add professional value. However, there are also opportunities you could introduce that will add real value to them personally.

Tastings – Wine, Whisky, Gin...

Perhaps not all at once but some of your clients will appreciate some real insight into a few of their favourite tipples. Again, this is a natural selection tool as not everyone will like everything so think about the audience and who would enjoy this.

Hiring in an expert who can add real value to your guests experience and choosing a central location with great public transport links (essential) could entice just the crowd you are after.

Left Field Speakers

Industry speakers are obviously of interest but it is also well documented that successful business people also enjoy and benefit from expanding their horizons. Finding a speaker that doesn’t conform and who has an interesting story to tell could encourage attendance through sheer curiosity.

Challenge on the links

Golf is a well-trodden path in terms of networking. Many businesses have had and given up corporate memberships as peoples time gets ever scarcer. However, there is still a strong allure for many to play on some of the finest courses around the country known as the home of golf.

So pick a course that has real allure, add in travel and after round refreshments and you will definitely attract the right crowd and strengthen relationships.

Successful events

There are a whole host of ideas and opportunities you could use to build stronger relationships with your clients. But keep in mind;

  • Your clients want something too so add value wherever you can
  • Keep the numbers manageable so there is a more personal touch
  • Make an effort to invite relevant and related people
  • Get creative with your event, it should be engaging for everyone
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