Planning a business networking conference is a big responsibility. It requires coordinating a lot of logistics and taking a lot of individual needs into account. Successful conferences give attendees ample opportunity to facilitate new relationships that will take their business ventures to the next level.
According to Event Manager, “trade shows and conferences are one of the top-3 sources buyers turn to when researching a vendor’s products and services.” The value of business networking conferences is undeniable. Here are the critical factors of how to plan a business networking conference.
In this case, the journey is NOT the destination. You choice of location will play a large role in the success of your conference. Factors that will affect your choice include the number of anticipated attendees, proximity to airports and other transportation hubs, and location-specific amenities.
First off, make sure that getting to the desired venue from the nearest airport isn’t a huge hassle. This is important to make a good first impression with attendees. Many will already be traveling long distances to attend your event. Nobody wants to spend an excessive amount of time in an Uber or airport shuttle after they’ve already been crammed on a plane for hours.
In choosing your location, you need to be sure that your venue can accommodate the needs of your distinguished guests. This includes everything from having the proper number and type of rooms to offering well-equipped business services center so that attendees can attend to any ongoing business tasks that may need to be handled during the conference.
Commuting from the airport to your desired venue should be easy and stress-free. You could always rely on attendees to organize their own Ubers, taxis, or ride shares to get there, but there are a few reasons why you should research shuttle bus rental price quotes to organize group transportation for attendees in advance.
One of the benefits of organizing a shuttle bus rental is that it will create opportunities for attendees to start networking as soon as they leave the airport. The connections they make on the shuttle bus may very well set the foundation for a new business relationship that will grow throughout the course of your event.
Surveys have suggested that 63% of event planners believe that accessibility is the biggest factor in selecting an event destination. Don’t underestimate the importance of ensuring easy transportation for your guests. They will notice that you’ve gone the extra mile to look after their needs as soon as they arrive at the event destination.
Based on this survey, the objectives of “learning”, “entertainment”, and “self-improvement” are also important to networking conference attendees. Yes, their main purpose is to meet new vendors, CEOs, or investors, but they also want more than just that out of your conference.
Booking headline speakers that can satisfy these objectives is important to planning a successful conference. Your choice of headliners can make or break your event attendance. An astounding 91% of event planners measure the success of their events based on attendee satisfaction. So, how do you know which headliners to choose?
The simplest answer is to ask the people whom you hope will attend your event. Almost 50% of event planners are now using event apps to plan and advertise their events. Utilize technology to survey your potential attendees in order to create a short list of headline speakers that you know they will get excited about.
This point grows in importance the larger your conference will be. Many attendees will find it easiest to connect with others in their industry if they are given the chance to do so in smaller groups. This is why a good networking conference includes a number of seminars, workshops, and guest lectures for attendees to choose from.
The venue you choose needs to support a variety of offerings, but you also have to come up with different tracks for attendees to follow. Consider the industry you’re catering to, as well as some of the most important issues within that industry. The tracks you choose should help attendees solve current problems or anticipate future problems so that they can stay ahead of the curve.
The truth about networking is that it’s only effective if people feel comfortable enough to let their guard down and let others in. Long-term relationships are the most valuable, and these are built on mutual interests. Giving event attendees opportunities to pursue tracks in which they’re truly interested will increase the likelihood of forming truly meaningful new business connections.
Planning Informal Networking Time
In addition to the scheduled speakers, workshops, lectures, and other educational/entertaining events you include in your conference, it’s also important to schedule what amounts to “unsupervised play time” for your guests.
Everyone networks in different ways. Some connections may be forged on the private shuttle from the airport to the venue. Others will be formed in small group workshops. And still others will be cemented during more information networking time, such as cocktail mixers, luncheons, or organized team building experiences.
A good networking conference builds these informal networking opportunities into its overall schedule. At the end of the day, your goal as the planner is to create ample opportunities for face-to-face networking interactions, and to do so in a variety of settings.
Plan YOUR Business Networking Conference
Although half of all marketers now say that they have attended a virtual networking conference at some point, 85% of them said they preferred in-person events and 92% expressed the belief that they would generate more leads at a physical conference. Face-to-face networking is still as important as ever.
There is a lot that goes into planning a successful business networking conference. These tips will help you maximize the success of your event and generate interest in your future events as well. If you’re going to be organizing a networking conference in 2019, be sure to keep these tips in mind and check out the 25 Event Venues and Destinations to Watch in 2019!