For the last couple of years, most of us have been working from spare rooms, bar stools at our kitchen islands, the couch, and even garages retrofitted into home offices, not even thinking about in-person events.
The pandemic has changed the world of work forever. It has also dramatically changed the world of networking and events. Since March of 2020, we’ve seen networking move to virtual spaces in the following forms:
Social Media - usage and growth of social networks has grown to an all-time high especially networking and employment-focused platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
Chatspaces & Networking Apps - communication apps like Discord, Telegram, and Signal have evolved to serve new purposes. Apps that were originally intended for gaming communications or secure instant messaging have become essential in networking activities across many industries. It's safe to assume that these spaces will stick around, but take on a different meaning.
Virtual Events Networking Initiatives - many popular in-person networking events transitioned to online venues while continuing to build community in a new format. New virtual events were created out of the increased desire for community that arose from remote work and pandemic lockdowns.
Many have spent a significant amount of time and energy building up their digital presence in the last two years. On this journey, many have expanded their networks to new places and with people that they could never have imagined reaching before.
That being said, it isn’t time to abandon these virtual networking initiatives. Instead, it’s time to use these connections and experiences to bridge the virtual with the in-person. Pretty exciting, right?
As we all start to crawl back out of our home offices again and into the wider world, let’s take a quick crash course on creating engaging in-person networking events.
Recipe for great in-person events — 5 key DO’s and DON’Ts:
1) DO make it something you genuinely like and are into (as long as it’s conducive to talking and networking — ex: loud concerts, not so much)
Networking over zoom or within a virtual chatroom comes with some oddities. For example, in a video communications platform, audio telephony does not allow for many people to talk at once, so more often than not, virtual networking events turn into a sort of pass the conch style of communication.
This isn’t entirely a bad thing, but it removes the ability for participants to have exchanges where multiple people are involved, all sharing simultaneously while driving the conversation in new directions.
You may want to kick off your first in-person event with some fun like a concert at a local bar or festival.
With all this fun in mind, make sure the event space is conducive to having conversations and networking. If event attendees can’t hear each other, they might get frustrated and leave or have a less enjoyable experience.
In short, make sure the event space is fun but set up for good conversation between attendees.
2) DON’T put yourself or your employees in a position where you’re uncomfortable or you feel like you’re trying to be someone you’re not.
If you don’t like bars and drinking, don’t host an event at a bar. If you and your staff really enjoy something like movies or old-school arcade games, share that side of yourself with your prospects and customers. The better time you have, the better time attendees will have, too.
3) DO partner with other vendors and businesses.
Booking a specific venue or activity may be cost-prohibitive on your own, but what if you split that cost three or four ways?
Partnering with the local community is where you can shine with your next in-person event while potentially sharing the spotlight with some of your client's businesses. Or partnering vendors if they offer MDF (Marketing Development Funds) for in-person events like this.
Here are some examples of how you can leverage partnerships for your next in-person event:
Partner with clients | Do you have a local client that owns a restaurant, bar, or event venue? Ask them if they’d be willing to partner with you for a networking event by allowing you to use their space for the meetup. This will give that client's local business some free publicity, plus you’ll have to buy food and drinks as well!
Partner with the local chamber | If you’re a member of the local chamber of commerce, usually they’ll have free event spaces you can use as well as a list of members you can include in your promotional efforts to expand the reach of your event. More mature chambers of commerce may even offer free promotion to their audience if you partner with them for the event.
Partner with a vendor | This tip is exclusively for MSPs. Many of the vendors in your tech stack offer MDF (Marketing Development Funds) explicitly events that will help you grow your business. In most cases, they will cover up to 50% of your event costs, and some vendors will even send out a subject matter expert to the event as a guest speaker for free! Contact your account manager with your vendor to inquire about MDF funds and more information on how they can be used and distributed.
4) DO be mindful of event location and timing with local traffic patterns in mind.
Don’t forget about travel time for your next in-person event! This was definitely not a worry for virtual networking events, but it’s worth mentioning as it may have been forgotten.
Is a venue of choice cross-town for most folks when rush hour is at its worst? Most people will say “hard pass” as they’ve become more accustomed to logging onto a virtual chat from the comfort of their own home.
Keep commute time in mind, and try to make the event venue as centralized as possible with easy access to parking and public transportation if that’s available in your market.
5) DON’T forget to take plenty of pictures and share them online. They make for great social and website content in the short-term and long-term.
This one can be a challenge for some, but don’t forget to take tons of pictures at your next event! If you’re afraid that you’ll be too busy chatting with event guests to take good photos, reach out to your network to see if you know any local photographers that would be interested in taking pictures of your event.
Another great way to collect pictures from your next event is to ask guests to share their photos on social media with a unique event hashtag so you can gather the photos post-event from attendees.
Don’t go it alone when hosting your next in-person event
A theme through this entire piece has been collaboration, collaboration with your clients, collaboration with your employees, and collaboration with the local community to make an in-person event a great success.
Don’t try to do it all alone, lean on your friends, family, and colleagues to take the stress out of planning and hosting your next in-person event.
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https://www.ninjaone.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/ninjaone-logo.svg00Team Ninjahttps://www.ninjaone.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/ninjaone-logo.svgTeam Ninja2023-02-10 10:39:00Recipe for Great In-Person Events: 5 Key DO’s and DON’Ts
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