Aug 162010
 

What makes the difference between a good networking event and a crappy one? If there were 100 people there does that make it awesome?

Over the last 5 years I have been taking part in and running networking events all over the Tampa Bay area. There have been Big Events, small events, crappy events, and Amazing Events, but what makes an event awesome?

Here is what I have seen, in many groups there is too much focus on the organization and not enough focus on attendee engagement. It seems as if facilitators of events have given their group an ego of its own. It doesn’t matter what organization it is Le Tip, BNI, NPI, RGA, FNI, REN, Ali Lassen, TWBA, PBN, BLA, or any other networking organization with an acronym out there the ones that are growing consistently are providing 4 things.

  1. Friendly Environment
  2. Valuable Education and/or Insights to other members
  3. Attendee Participation 2-5 times
  4. Feeling of Appreciation

Members of you group are there to grow their business and build valuable relationships, if they experience this they will tell others about it. If you have to pay for advertising of your group that is a sign that your group needs improvement. You should never have to spend a dime on promoting a routine networking event, if you provide the 4 things listed above the group will grow itself, period.

Since I mentioned what works let me tell what bores most guests, and stuns growth.

What myself and many other people DO NOT CARE about at your networking event includes:

1) Who your board members are (What benefit does this give any individual members business? This is wasted time that your members could be speaking and learning more about anything related to business rather then who your Treasurer, and President, a whoever the hell you decided to give a worthless title to’ s purpose is.)

2) How much money members have made each other (Again, who cares?!? This hurts you group in so many ways because what I have seen is in a group of 30-40 there are only 4-10 maybe 15 tops who are making any of that recognized money. This stifles other group members who are not seeing the results and frankly you didn’t make your guest another dime by bragging about your fancy shmancy group income.)

3) Talking about the format for more than a minute (The people came to the meeting, give them the experience don’t outline it for them. People are curios and always want o know what’s keep them in anticipation.

Frankly when I go to a group with those 3 things I personally have no desire to go back, nor pay to attend it regularly. I have been fortunate to understand the principals and dynamic of a group and have built a 2-5 people a week group to over 50 attendees each week. I prefer 25-35 and we are now getting back to that. Numbers are great, but quality over quantity is the name of the game in business networking events.

My personal “Magic” format to a successful networking event:

  • Thank you intro (Turn off phones and so forth)
  • Question of the day to think about and answer with commercial (This is question of any kind that gets attendees to learn more about each other)
  • Approx 45 second commercial with answer to question of the dayAttendee Engagement 1
  • Gratitude Period– Give everyone a chance to thank one another or express thankfulness for anything in business or personal life- Attendee Engagement 2
  • Q & A– Allow members to ask one another a few questions in a organized format so others can learn more about the respective businesses (As a facilitator you must be able to create conversation and excite people to answer questions about their business) Attendee Engagement 3
  • Goal Setting and Review– Have members set a goal each week, and review their goals from last week (This creates more consistence and accountability within your group) Attendee Engagement 4
  • Other networking event announcementsAttendee Engagement 5

This format has know engaged members a minimum of 2 times and maximum of 5, everyone knows a little more about one another and looks forward to coming back and sharing their success in reaching their goals next week.

Sorry so long I just needed to get this off my chest!

This is Joe Malinowski telling all of you wonderful people to have a wonderful week!