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!

  20 Responses to “Why Your Networking Event Sucks…”

  1. You’re right on Joe. I believe the biggest is the audience participation in the event. The more you can get from them and find out what they’re looking for the better. Find out what they’re looking to get out of the event then provide it for them.

    I’m glad you go that off your chest,

    Michael

  2. I think the format you are using is excellent. I can feel the emphasis is on gratefulness. it always important to let the attendee know how grateful you are to see them attending the event. Mutual respect is also very important and of course never boast oneself of how much money he/she made, who cares.

    thanks for sharing
    Loic

  3. Sounds like there is a lot to holding a good networking event. I have been to some that had no structure at all and some that had way too much structure. Thanks for giving us the fine line instructions.

  4. Hey Joe,

    Good stuff! I believe you hit on the good and the bad very nicely. Engagement is key and you want to make it enjoyable so the more interaction you can get the better – your attendees should be participants and not mere spectators.

    People don’t like to just sit there and be lectured and yes, while it’s important to know you’re getting info/advice from people who “walk the talk”, getting a breakdown of other people’s earnings just isn’t going to add any value.

    Thanks, Laura

  5. Thanks for the post about the key things to make sure your networking event better. I really appreciated this post. I can’t wait to read your next post.

    ~ Tim

  6. Hey Joe,

    You have a wealth of experience and it is great to get good advice from you. A lot of people could learn a lot from this. Thanks for sharing.

    Beth 🙂

  7. I have been networking pre-Web 2.0. Everytime I leave the house is a networking opportunity. In an airport or on the plane to a conference, at the conference, going out to dinner, etc. Now we need networking events to organize people to network or online tools like LinkedIn. Networking has morphed. As a result we have more situational vs. sustainable connections. People no longer understand the value of nurturing relationships and nurturing certainly is not going to happen at one event in a five minute conversation before you move on to the next conversation.

  8. Wow thanks, I have not been to too many networking events, but these insights were great! I will definitely have to think about this some more…

    -Kyle

  9. Hi Joe,
    you given a great run down of how to do a network event!
    One thing I would maybe add is a short time for testimonials about the product and the opportunity.
    Great Post, thanks.
    Have a great weekend.
    Yorinda

  10. Hi Joe,

    I’ve definitely heard and seen my share of what someone thinks is a great networking event. To have a great networking event means to make it fun, engaging and wonderful learning experiences.

    Sure there are other elements, but they all come back to these.

    You did a great job painting a picture for many of us.

    Thanks for speaking the truth.
    Jerome Ratliff

  11. Joe! Thanks!

    Amazing information, I have bookmarked this page and will gladly share it with my network. This is real world valuable information. The next time I’m at a sucky networking event I’m going to give them a link to your post…LOL

    Thanks Again
    Rob

  12. Hey Joe, this is the first time I’ve heard anybody address this issue. Thanks for sharing the secrets of an awesome networking event. I never could understand why people never address the tools that people need to hear about. There is only so much time you have with them and we need to get through the most important things they need to know about.

  13. Hi Joe, Great post. Very good tips and info. I have only been to a few events, and I see some room for some improvements. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. The overall point is well taken – engagement and participation – and I guess your frustration with anything you feel that diminishes that aspect of a meeting comes through as well. I do not attend networking meetings regularly so I have no membership practice to defend. I have been a guest at BNI, and some of the practices of a BNI meeting approximate some of what you are expressing as bad practice, for example, reporting the amount of money generated in referrals for the members. It sure didn’t offend me to hear that information. Rather it suggested to me that the participants were serious about supporting one another. It wasn’t just social chit chat and idle talk about sports. Since it only took about 2 minutes of time it seemed appropriate.

    The main point of engagement is absolutely true, but where there may be different points of view is over some of the other practices that some see as valuable and others see as time wasters.

    I suspect being in a group that you lead would be a fantastic experience. The passion you bring for the participation of members would make your meetings the kind that one would want to repeat.

  15. Okay, these were just great down to earth tips that I can take to my next business opp meeting. Thanks!

  16. Thanks Bill, glad you enjoyed!

  17. Thank you Richard for your kind words. It is always a pleasure hosting groups, but the only time of real gratification is when you know you are able to assist someone else in achieving their goals.

    I look forward to learning more about you as well. The business networking arena needs some more folks like yourself!

    Have a great day!

  18. Cool LeeAnn, if I can ever be of assistance please let me know!

  19. Thanks for the comment Rick! When you enjoy networking and feel each group can change and benefit people more than it is but have a unwilling facilitator it makes things tough.

    I hope all is well on your end. Have a great day!

  20. That would be awesome Rob! Thanks for the support and the confidence. If I can be of any assistance please let me know!

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