Even with the endless advances we see every day in online networking, there’s still no way to top an in-person event if your goal is connecting, engaging and strengthening relationships.
If you’re ready (and brave enough) to host your own, there are plenty of moving parts to consider, none of which can be decided until you know the format that fits your needs. We recommend starting with a one-day event where travel and accommodations aren’t a factor.
How do you decide what kind of event you want to host?
Determine Your Primary Event Goals
Are you simply looking to connect with your peers? Do you want to build brand credibility by teaching a topic with your expertise? Do you want to bring together other experts to facilitate an unforgettable experience for your ideal client?
Clarity is key here: if you’re mostly hoping to mingle and make new connections, you certainly don’t need a full-day workshop featuring different speakers and goodie bags.
Once you know what you’re really looking to gain, it’s much easier to determine the rest of the details for planning an in-person event.
What Is Your Ideal Client Looking For?
It’s likely that one of your primary goals is to grow your audience or increase brand loyalty and awareness, so it’s important that you’re also offering your target market an opportunity in which they’re equally interested.
A few things to consider when answering this question:
What is their schedule like? Would a happy hour fit into their day most easily? Or do they have the flexibility to spend a day at a workshop?
How much do they spend on this type of opportunity? You’d hate to go to all the trouble of planning a $500 training when your audience would much prefer something more affordable.
What would be a no-brainer for them? We always love to offer something that is an automatic “yes!” for our audience. Make it easy on yourself by starting here.
Not sure how to answer the above questions? It never hurts to survey your audience directly!
Make Sure You Have the Bandwith
A sure-fire way to set yourself up for failure is to go too big before you’re ready. Do you have a team that can help organize the event? Do you have the budget to bring on freelance help for this specific project?
Looks can be deceiving; attending an event, looking around and thinking, “I could do this,” is just a fraction of what’s involved, so don’t sign yourself up for heartache by underestimating the scope of even a simple cocktail hour.
Start by mind mapping everything you can think of that would be involved in the undertaking and assign time estimates, then double those estimates, in order to get a better idea of what’s in store.
Know Your Options
If you’ve brainstormed the factors above and think you know what you’re looking for, consider these basic descriptions of one-day events to see which one rings a bell:
Cocktail Hour/Meet and Greet: A nice, casual way to dip your toe into the in-person event world. Find a great venue, consider a signature cocktail, and keep in mind creative ways to facilitate connections.
Speaker/Panel/Q&A: This is a great opportunity to capitalize on the audiences of other experts in your industry. A panel is the easiest to organize because featured guests don’t need as much prep time.
Workshop: Usually, this is a half-day or full-day event focused on teaching actionable tips centered around a niche topic. You can teach all the lessons yourself or bring in other teachers to share the responsibilities with you.
Something New: We’re all about innovation, so don’t be afraid to mix things up with a format you haven’t seen before. It certainly worked for the morning dance rave.
We’re big fans of meeting up IRL, particularly when it’s a well-organized and thoughtful event. Hopefully, with the above tips in mind, you’re on your way to creating one!