Whether you’re planning a charity event, business networking cocktail hour, reception or educational conference, getting the word out about your meeting can be a big challenge. To adequately promote an event, planners need to target potential attendees using a variety of media. While your networking events may not need its own website, people need one place to check for information about what’s coming up next, or how they register to attend the event. You can use anything from a Facebook group to a Meetup group or even your own website.
Whatever you choose, you need to make it a priority and keep it updated. Without a high level of consistency, your past or future attendees won’t be able to keep up or let their own networks know about your events. You want to make it easy for your converted audience to share your event. You need to find what appeals to your audience, as well as ways to bring new people to your event. After all, what’s a chance to network if you already know every single person in the meeting room?
Here are some tips:
- Find the right venue. Before you start marketing your networking event, you need to find the right venue that is easy to get to for your audience members and sets the right tone for your event. Sometimes it is easiest to promote the convenient location.
- Choose email as your primary method of communication to your audience. Many of the options available for creating an online community for your networking will have some sort of email built in (like Facebook notifications). In such cases, you may be able to get by without your own list. There are also plenty of different email newsletter tools that you can set up for free — MailChimp and Constant Contact offer free plans – and once your subscriber list gets large enough, you can upgrade to an inexpensive paid plan.
- Choose the right name for your event. If you want your event to stand out, you need to use a better name than “Networking night” or “Small business seminar.” You need to find a name that is creative and will get people’s attention.
- Provide online registration. Regardless of what you call your event or how you communicate with the intended audience, you want to provide a link to online registration that is seamless for your guests – and a more efficient way for your business or organization to know specifically who is attending.
- Make it easy for guests to mark the event on their calendar. When you’re marketing your event to local business owners, you know you’re marketing to a busy audience. You need to make clickable links so people can add the event to their outlook or Google calendars.
- Map it. Make it easy for your attendees to find the location of your events. They will be more inclined to register if they know exactly where it is. Make it easier on guests by linking their invites directly to Google Maps. That way they can get directions based on the mode of transportation they plan on taking.
- Social Media is your friend. Use social media channels to promote your meeting or event. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google, as well as any other social media platforms that you use or that your audience is likely to be found on. You can use your personal and your organization’s social network, or create new accounts on your social channels dedicated to the event. Don’t forget to push out updates to your own followers on social media and elsewhere on an ongoing basis.
- Contact Bloggers. Asking bloggers and social media users to spread the word (provided your event is relevant to their communities) can be useful as long as the audience you’re trying to reach regularly reads social media sites. You may find that bloggers and other online publishers have deeper ties to their followers (on your particular topic or networking event) than members of more widely distributed media, such as the local newspaper.
If you’re serious about creating and running a recurring networking event, whether you’re doing it for altruistic purposes or for your own benefit, you need to make sure that you’re always planning the next event. The more momentum you can build, the easier it will be to keep your events moving forward.