A Guide to Hosting Networking Events: Meeting In-Person vs. Online

Any long-time business owner will tell you that one of the quickest paths to success is knowing the right people. Putting yourself out there is hard, so how are you supposed to network correctly if you don’t already have a foot in the door? Maybe it’s time to consider hosting an event yourself.

A social gathering to meet other executives, talk to investors, and promote your own business is a tried and true way to get on the good side of powerful players. And whereas they used to always be held in-person, digital events are taking over. But which route should you take?

Learn more about hosting in-person vs. online networking events and what’s required of you for each.

hosting networking events

In-Person Events

In-person events have the advantage of meeting face-to-face. This allows participants to exchange business cards, connect more easily, and offer hands-on workshops or events. However, it may all come at a much higher cost to you while also requiring more planning and logistics. Discover what you’ll need to do to prepare for your event:

Schedule Entertainment

Give your attendees a bonus for being there beyond meeting potential competition. If nothing else, hiring a professional entertainer like Seth Neustein – Magician and Mentalist based out of Pittsburgh, PA and available nationwide will leave them with a positive impression of you as a host. This will also help people loosen up and feel more comfortable.

Hire Catering

When you have to take time out of your day to travel to an event, a little free food goes a long way. Have the event catered with refreshments to keep your guests happy and less likely to leave early.

If there is a register for guests, have them state preferences and allergies in advance.

Venue and Location

The location of your event is very important. Choose a venue that is easily accessible to your target audience, the right size for your plans, and well within budget. Depending on the venue you choose, it may be more difficult for people to attend, leaving you with a larger bill and fewer attendees than if it had been virtual.

Venues usually need to be booked up to a month in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute.

Online

Online networking events have the advantage of not requiring extensive travel by attendees. It is also cheaper, as you don’t have to rent a venue or hire catering.

However, virtual events are less personable and rely on a strong, stable internet connection for everyone involved. Internet speeds will vary depending on where the attendee is joining from, so keep that in mind.

Choose the Right Software

To host a video conference, you will need to find a reliable conferencing platform. Choose one that allows breakout rooms for individual participants to make it easier for one-on-one meetings.

Prepare for Problems

When the entire event is hosted online, there is a constant risk of interruption because of technical issues. Short power or network outages aren’t uncommon, which would immediately boot someone out of the meeting.

With a large group, someone being disconnected might fly under the radar, which at best leads to losing a potential professional relationship.

But suppose the problem is at the host’s end. In that case, the entire conference is at risk, so unless you are confident in your ability to troubleshoot computer problems in time to save the event, find on-call tech support to be there in an emergency.

Things to Remember

Follow up with the attendees after the event to learn their opinions of the event for future reference. This way, you can improve if you choose to do it again. No matter what, the attendees will be grateful for your time and energy spent creating an opportunity to meet new people and grow as business leaders.

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