Networking is an important part of building your personal brand, your business or organization, and finding common purpose with your community. Hosting a networking event is a great way to make connections with other like-minded professionals.
This guide will help you understand what every networking event needs, and what considerations you should make for an in-person event compared to an online event. Download the guide below to help your networking event be as effective as possible.
YALI Network Guide to Hosting a Network Event (Plain Text Version)
Networking is an important part of building your personal brand, your business or organization, and finding common purpose with your community. Hosting a networking event is a great way to make connections with other like-minded professionals. This guide will help you understand what every networking event needs, and what considerations you should make for an in-person event compared to an online event. Use the following checklists throughout your event process to help your networking event be as effective as possible.
The four stages of every networking event:
Stage 1: Planning
- Decide on the purpose of your event
What is the main goal you are trying to achieve?
- Consider your budget
How much can you afford to spend hosting the event? If the cost is too high, consider partnering with other professionals to cohost the event. Having no budget is also okay, networking events can be very small and still be successful.
- Pick a venue (in-person or online)
If you choose an in-person event, free or low cost event locations, like your place of business or community center may be a good choice.
- Select a date and time for your event
- Give yourself at least 8 weeks to plan and invite guests
Aim for a diverse group of people from various communities and professions. Try and use it as an opportunity to introduce people who may not know each other but have much to offer.
Stage 2: Invitations and Preparation
- Determine which ways you will choose to invite people, and how many people you will invite
(Email, social media, by phone/text, in-person)
- Tell people why they should come
Be sure to explain how and why the event will be beneficial for guests when inviting them, try to do this in three sentences or less.
- Be courteous to invitees
Like you, other professionals tend to be busy. Sending people too many invites or reminders could make your event seem less desirable to attend.
- Come up with a personal pitch
When meeting new people, it’s especially important to be clear and concise, so practice a short pitch that will tell people who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what you do professionally.
Stage 3: Event
- Break the ice
Meeting new people can be challenging and some people may be nervous to talk, try asking simple questions about who they are and what they do.
- Event Structure
Try to limit the number of presentations or speeches you have, as they can distract from the networking. Give attendees a chance to mingle with each other informally as part of the event. Try to keep the event structured with an agenda, but be flexible to allow guests to network.
Stage 4: Follow-up
- Email guests within 24 hours to thank them for attending
Try to personalize your messages as much as possible to each attendee you met.
- Keep the group in touch
Consider creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group to keep attendees in touch after the event.
For more information about networking and professional development, check out the YALI Professionals site (yali.state.gov/professionals) to access a collection of online courses, blogs, toolkits, and other resources to aid you as you grow your career, your business, and your community.