How to create a successful networking event in South Florida!
Luxury Chamber of Commerce is proud to share our advice and referrals so that you yourself can host a great networking event and learn from our experience. From venue selection we provide some venue referrals, if you plan to incorporate a charity benefactor we offer some local charities who will work with you, event venue locations, how to properly name your event and promotional ideas as well.
1.) Pick a Date
Choosing a date for an event is very important! Take into consideration the time of year, whether other events are happening on the date, the day of the week and time of day and traffic drive time should also be taken into consideration. Luxury Chamber prefers hosting events on Mondays because this is a day when restaurants and venues are otherwise slow so it gives us negotiation leverage to negotiate a good deal on the venue space. Mondays are also great because the attendees have the rest of the week to follow up on their business leads. Find out when your local chambers host their events. Some networking groups host on first Mondays, second Tuesdays or Third Thursdays. Make sure you are not competing with three other local networking groups via hosting an event on the 3rd Thursday of the Month. If you host your event on a consistent basis look ahead and see which holidays may fall on such and such date. Luxury Chamber events being on a Monday tend to fall on MLK Day and Presidents day so to ensure a strong turnout to those events which land on a holidays we invite the segment of our database whom do not need to work on those holidays and may be available to attend. Fridays have the worst traffic of the week and its very hard to get a strong turnout at a networking event on a Friday. Weekend dates are generally only ok if it happens to be a social event and not a business networking event. Sunday afternoon can be a great day for an event. Just make sure to be careful about scheduling during football season!
2.) Find a Venue
Venue selection must take into consideration: cost, capacity, parking and reputation of the restaurant or other venue. Many businesses will donate their space for a networking event. Good examples include art galleries, country clubs, marinas and office space locations. If you plan to utilize a restaurant explain to the restaurant manager that you can provide a room of people in exchange for a round of drinks and some light passed appetizers. Managers can be reluctant at first but when when you explain that on average 15% of networking event attendees tend to stay for dinner they will be much more inclined to accept your offer. If you're hosting your event in South Florida here is a list of venues almost guaranteed to allow a networking event: EVENT VENUES IN SOUTH FLORIDA
2.) Name the Event
Naming the event is very important. Try to incorporate some matching letters such as: Sassy Social Soiree. Utilize appropriate titles. The term "Soiree" can be utilized for a classy social event but the title of "Gala" should of course be reserved for a large event with several dinner round tables and entertainment. Other terms we find include Mixer, Luncheon for a lunch networking event or Cocktail Reception. Be creative, look at the time of day: Dinner after Dusk for example. Look at events which have been hosted by others and utilize a thesaurus for word ideas. Also take the location into consideration such as our: West Boca Lifestyle Soiree.
3.) Decide on a charity
If you incorporate a charity find one you believe in! Find a small charity which will be willing to help promote your event to some of their donors in the area. Many larger organizations have staunchy-stinky board of directors and are not willing to collaborate with others. Here are suggestions of some smaller charities in So FLA who will work with your organization: LOCAL SOUTH FLORIDA CHARITIES
4.) Decide on a Price Point
Pricing an event can be tricky. A free event you may attract undesirables. Price it too high and the turnout might be too slim. Price it at only $5. or $10. and no real business person will take you seriously. For an event to be decent; more solid business people like to pay $15 or $20 (or more) and this is a number which will not break the bank especially considering the event probably includes a complimentary beverage, appetizers, door prizes, possibly celebrity guest speaker and or book signing. Our suggestion is to offer discounted tickets in advance to lock in a number of attendees and a higher cash only price at the door on the day of the event. Keep in mind that 25% of the people who spend money on advance tickets never even attend the event so its basically FREE money to you or your organization.
5.) Write a News Release
Keep it simple! Location, date, time, price, a little about the event and why the people should attend and how to get ahold of you with more details. Create a photo of the news release and upload it to social media and tag a few friends in it as a Save-the-Date device and promo piece. Of course then submit to local media.
6.) Promote the event
Some great places to promote the event include: facebook, twitter, Instagram, your website, local event calendars and websites such as: localwineevents.com, Eventbrite, Miami Social and Guest of a Guest. Printing flyers and passing them out DOES NOT WORK!!! Posting flyers to telephone poles and putting them up in neighborhoods DOES NOT WORK!!! Stick to social media and be willing to do some paid advertising in your local magazine, radio and television if the budget will allow it. Facebook offers highly targeted event advertising options which can reach the exact demographic in the city or neighborhood you are trying to target. Also be sure to create a facebook group and event. Upload flyers and tag your friends. Make sure that if you are trying to ensure a large turnout that your privacy settings are not set to friends or friends of friends rather PUBLIC. If the setting is not set to public then hardly anyone will see the flyer. This depends of course on your event. Some events truly must be kept private.
7.) Ensure easy check-in
Make sure to bring a cash box, hello-my-name-is nametags, sharpie markers and a plastic fish bowl so that every attendee to the function can drop a business card to win a prize. The prize may simply be a free ticket to the next event or it can be a gift card donated from a local restaurant. Check with local PR firms to see if they may have some door prizes offered by their many clients.
8.) Time the event
Do not talk on the microphone until 2/3rds of the way through the event. When people are drinking and having a great time with others the last thing they want to do is stop a great conversation / buzz to listen to some guy or gal in a suit speak on a microphone for half an hour. So wait until the later portion of the event to pass our door prizes and speak on the mic. What sometimes happens is when the prizes are passed out and the person is done speaking the whole room sobers up and goes home and you do not want that happening half way through an otherwise great event. Also, only talk for a couple minutes. Do not hog the microphone and only allow your top quality guests an opportunity to speak on the mic. Do not allow everyone in the room to speak on the microphone about their business. Keep it short and sweet and let the people get back to doing what people do best = drinking and eating.
9.) Leave a tip
If your venue is a restaurant don't forget to tip the event wait staff. If everything was donated make sure to tip them even more. $20. per server might be a good number! You want to be able to return there in the future and more importantly those people deserve a livable wage! If your venue is not a restaurant at least clean up after yourself and offer a tip to the business owner. If its a small art gallery please buy some art and show some respect to their venue.
10.) Follow up
Upload your event photos to facebook, tag everyone in the photos, thank them for coming, add them to your email list, thank them via email the following morning and send a small personalized postcard in the mail with your business card and perhaps a free ticket or other incentive to attend your next event.
Need an event planner? Need a celebrity speaker? LIST OF CELEBRITY SPEAKERS IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Any questions or to join Luxury Chamber please contact founder Jay Shapiro email@example.com