Networking Challenge: 7 Lessons For Hosting A Successful Network Event

Networking Challenge - 004 - Main

Fortunately, there were not that many people at my networking event!

It has been two weeks since I gave you the last update on my networking challenge. The public challenge shared with you here on this blog, which is all about how to achieve one of my biggest business goals for 2013.

In this fourth post, I would like to share with you some details on the newly established networking group, which I hosted for the first time last week, as well as the most important lessons learned and mistake to avoid in future for anyone hosting such an event.

Interested to know more?

Keep reading!

The Networking Challenge

For all of you who are not familiar with this series, I encourage you to have a look at the previous posts, notably the first one, to get a picture of what I am getting myself into 🙂

My focus today lies on providing you some feedback on my initiatives for my first action: “Start a local networking group with regular meetups”. Here comes the screenshot of my professional network goal for 2013 and the related action items:
The Networking Challenge – My Personal Development Plan Put Into Action -2

The last post I published on this topic on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, was one week prior to the first Entrepreneurs’ Exchange in Düsseldorf on June 4th, my first time hosting such an event. Up to that day there were 14 group members and 7 of those wanted to attend.

The evening before the first event, on June 3rd, all spots were taken (12 in total) and 2 people were on the waiting list. This was great news! I assume I also have to thank the Meetup Newsletter than was send out on that Sunday evening promoting the upcoming events!

Networking Challenge - 004I had sent a short email to all participants on that weekend to provide them with the last details. I was really looking forward to this first exchange!

Before I give you a rundown of the lessons learned and the things anyone should apply as a host, I want to share with you that the event from my perspective was a great success!

The people I have met were very nice and I look forward to get to know them better during the next gatherings!

On the day after the event, I invited to the next meetup beginning of July and as you can see on the right our group is slowly growing! I look forward to get to know all of them personally and create a great platform of exchange for national and international entrepreneurs in Düsseldorf!

7 Big Lessons Of the First Event

As a first-time host of such an event, I have identified seven key lessons that I took away with me. I believe there is something for all of us to learn:

  1. Using a platform like Meetup.com helps a lot:  You can a) rely on such a big platform to promote your event for you and b) it helps you with organizing the basics for such an event (pre-filled attendance list, name tags, which we did not use, follow-up messages, ratings etc).
  2. Keep the participant number low: It will depend on your objective how many people you would like to invite, but it can be highly beneficial to keep it at a small group, if you want to allow more direct conversations. I intentionally limited the number of people for this event to 12 people (including myself), as I had envisioned to give room for more direct exchanges within the group as possible. It was the objective that everyone had the time and chance to get to know everyone. The good thing about it was, the participants of the first meeting welcomed this.
  3. If you have an agenda, stick with it: In my case, right in the beginning of the event I proposed an agenda and we sticked to it for about an hour, but then we got sidetracked and I did not catch the thread to come back to the main topic. As it was a first gettogether, it might not be a major point, but I will remind myself that once we have agreed to an agenda, that we stick to it.
  4. Reserve a table: This might sound self-explanatory, but if you want to have a quiet place to network and have a drink, I highly recommend to reserve a table in a bar/restaurant, even if there will be ‘just’ 6 of you. At our event, in the end we were seven people and not 12 as originally intended, the bar at which I had reserved, dedicated a particular table to us in the very back of the restaurant.
  5. Choose your location wisely: If you have the chance to organize such an event, choose a location you know well for your first gathering. The bar, which I had selected, received positive feedback by the participants; however, they also said that it was a bit noisy due to the loud music. For the next event, which was planned to take place at a different location anyway, I will try to make sure that we do not sit right close to the speakers.
  6. Always expect no-shows, even if you have a waiting list: This is something I somehow have difficulties to get used to, despite the increasing number of events I have organized or participated. However, no-shows always happens. No matter how many reminder emails you send upfront. So, my advice, just expect people who won’t turn up for your event.
  7. Ask for feedback: Nothing is as good as receiving direct feedback from the participants, whether it is positive or negative! One just has to have the courage to ask for it to improve for next time. And remember, when asking for such a feedback, avoid to comment on their response, just take it in. You do not need to defend your ideas. When I asked the participants what suits them best for the next meetups, suggestions were made on how to improve some aspects. Fortunately the opinions did not vary too much, so I could take everyone’s feedback into consideration.

Have you been participating at a Networking event recently? Were you a participant or a host? What was your experience? Share with us in the comments!

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