Effective Networking

Are you too busy to make business/ social engagements you rsvp for and have earmarked in your calendar? How do you choose which seminars or events you attend? Where’s the most value in networking and business to fun-factor balance?

Networking at the Launchwise Event

Networking at the Launchwise Event

The RSVP

As an event planner myself, I always marvel at the number of people who would RSVP for an event and never show up. Events can average around 25-50% no-show rate depending on the event’s cost, exclusivity and communications. And with the explosion of social media – specifically Facebook Event Pages and other rsvp services like EventBrite – there is increasing potential for false positives. People want to support a cause and in the case of Facebook, click to “Join” and it’s automatically assumed you’re going. Event planners are taking these new factors into consideration and coming up with new equations to predict an event’s success – writing off a higher amount of the one-click rsvp’s as no-shows, for example, but attributing those “likes” as promotional.

We’re all busy. We’re also optimistic. We rsvp and add events to our calendar in hopes that we can attend, then give them a re-evaluation the day of and might have to bow out. There are unforseen business or personal conflicts to manage plus there are no shortage of events. Here are some of the things I consider when rsvp’ing.

1. Time commitment
2. Location/ convenience (additional events to attend)
3. Potential business / personal connections to be made
4. My level of interest in the subject/ content
5. Exclusivity – annual, or reoccurring monthly
6. Cause to support
7. Entertainment factor and structure of the event
8. Cost

Where’s the Value?

I carve out time in my schedule to make events a priority. There might be one main event I want to do (Thursday nights seem to be good event nights for networking and it generally works with my schedule), so I might seek out additional events in any given evening while in networking mode. For me, this is easier than having several events spread out over the course of the week/month. And, depending on the event, you can typically get in and out in 30 minutes if you’re on a time crunch and still make it worth-while and effective. This means pre-networking via social channels (following the host company/organization and event speakers/participants), enjoying the event itself (meeting people, making connections) and doing your follow-up online (LinkedIn) or personal networking in a timely manner — like within 1-2 business days. More on this in a future post.

The events I find most valuable to attend include some sort of short program – 15 min to 45 min – that is educational or inspirational in some way for business or personal reasons. Typically there is some social time before and after – 15 -30 minutes on either end is plenty. I also really appreciate it when the hosts are mingling and ready to be engaging. There’s nothing worse than walking into an event alone where no one greets you or takes a moment to find out why you’re there and make a suggestion or introduction. And sure, a lot of people come to events and already know each other, but as an event planner, wouldn’t it be beneficial to attract a new audience to your event/cause to keep it fresh and interesting?

Good Event Examples

I recently attended an event hosted by DTZ Global and Knoll at the Minneapolis Club in downtown Minneapolis. In my book, they scored highly on their program structure (national thought leaders on Change in the Workplace), educational/inspirational value, number of people from different yet related professions and industries and being great hosts. It was a more intimate event with about 70 in attendance, which meant easy access to the hosts and keynote presenters.

Another group, Launchwise, which I discovered in June, is solely for networking purposes. They have reoccurring bimonthly events around a wine and chocolate theme. Oh, and there’s a cool, new property for its location too as in the VUE in June and the Elan Uptown in August. It’s low key and easy with creative types and entrepreneurs in the mix. I met an art gallery owner and graphic designer who is also AIGA Minnesota’s President and caught up with my architect and writer friends too (pictured above).

A Networking Plan

For some networking is work. Getting into a positive mindset and having a plan can make it effective for you. And remember new people can spark new creativity and perspective and that’s important. Choose one to two slots a month for networking and attend events by good hosts you can count on and try out some new events with an open mind after doing your research, of course. Happy handshaking.

What events have you attended that were really well done?

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