Networking is essential for the small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the start-up or growth phases. Networking allows you to meet other like-minded people, learn about local business and events, and hopefully find your next great client(s)!
With all the networking options available and the limited schedules of busy entrepreneurs, what makes a GREAT networking event? What makes an event worth your time? And what should you be sure to offer at the next event you host?
Here are 5 aspects that I look for in a GREAT event;
- Attendance – First thing’s first, you need people to show up, in order to have a great networking event. Getting the word out about an event is essential. Post it on any local calendars that are available, send out e-mails to your contact list, and use social media to promote your event.
- Atmosphere – The venue needs to be easy to find, welcoming, and have ample open space to allow for mingling, but there should also be seating for those that prefer it.
- Diversity – The attendees should come from diverse industries, to encourage and promote sharing of information and interesting topics.
- Mingling – Attendees should be encouraged to meet new people. If this does not seem to be happening, then the coordinators should take initiative to introduce people or offer some form of activity that encourages mingling.
- Food and Beverages – While the quality and quantity of food and/or beverages can vary greatly, depending on the time and place of the event, there should be something available to help attendees fill those moments in between mingling.
I found all of these factors at two local events that I attend regularly; Maine Successful Thinkers and Maine Freedom Networking! You can typically meet and greet with dozens of local business owners, walking away with at least 15-20 business cards from people who you had meaningful conversations with. Plus, they are fun to attend!
If you are looking for local places to network, check out the Maine Networking Calendar on the Office Solutions ME website!
Feel free to contact us for networking details and coordination, and read our earlier post for more information about how to be a great networker!