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    Top Tips: How to plan the perfect networking event

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    Networking plays an important role in business, so if you’re the one responsible for organising events designed to facilitate it, how do you ensure they work well for everyone? To help you plan the perfect networking event, Alex Softley, marketing manager at The Meetings Show, shares his five top tips…

    If you want to make new contacts, keep in touch with existing ones and develop business leads, attending a networking event is hard to beat – but planning the perfect networking event isn’t always as straightforward as you may think.

    Organising a networking event throws up many questions – when and where should you hold it to ensure enough people attend and when you do get them there, how do you make it easy for them to mingle? 

    Following the results of a survey of meetings professionals on the subject, The Meetings Show has compiled some top tips to help you plan the perfect networking event: 

    1. Hold it mid-week.Our survey revealed that 69% of meetings professionals are most likely to attend a networking event if it’s held on a Wednesday, Thursday was the second most popular day, closely followed by Tuesday. 
    2. Don’t make attendees travel far. You’re much more likely to attract attendees to your networking event if it will take them less than an hour to get to. According to our survey, 43% of respondents said the maximum amount of time they are willing to travel to an event from home is between 30 and 60 minutes. A third said they’d travel up to two hours while only 6% would be willing to attend an event if it took them between two and five hours to reach. 
    3. Allow colleagues to come too.While the majority of people attend networking events to make new contacts, we found that 63% of professionals are reluctant to go along to an event if they don’t know anyone, preferring instead to attend with a colleague, or a group of colleagues. This figure rose to 85% among 18-30-year-olds, so if you want to attract millennials, this is the way to go. 
    4. Help facilitate networking.If you’ve managed to attract a healthy number of professionals to your event, it can be tempting to throw them together in a room and let them get on with it, but our survey found that they are happier if networking is aided. Partner or group activities are the most popular format, chosen by 53% of respondents, while seat rotation at a dinner was chosen by 51% of people overall.
    5. Make introductions on the day. The majority of professionals (61%) prefer to wait until they get to an event to be introduced to fellow attendees, so for most, digital pre-introductions aren’t required. However, this opinion may change in the future with 57% of 18-30-year-olds showing a preference for introductions to fellow attendees via social media or digitally prior to the event, indicating that it’s likely to be a growing trend.

    The Meetings Show takes place at London Olympia on Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 June. To register visit www.themeetingsshow.com

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    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien