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Event-planning experts offer their advice to the members of Connect: Professional Women's Network on how to plan and pull off a successful networking gathering. To learn more and join the group for …

Event-planning experts offer their advice to the members of Connect: Professional Women's Network on how to plan and pull off a successful networking gathering. To learn more and join the group for free, visit www.linkedin.com/womenconnect.

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  • thank you for sharing - some great tips!
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  • @JulianaBuonanno Are you connecting realty companies with giving back projects in the DC area? Please connect if you are.
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  • Hello,

    I actually am trying to set up a professional networking event with KW Realty and other real estate companies in the DC area to connect useful companies and services to the real estate industry. Would you be able to help?
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  • I posted this article because I want my colleagues to have successful events. Helping others is something that I believe in and it always brings good karma into my life
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  • 1. BROUGHT TO YOU BY Event-planning experts offer their advice on how to plan and pull off a successful networking gathering. How-To Host a Professional Meet-Up
  • 2. The members of Connect: Professional Women's Network, a free LinkedIn group powered by Citi, have been organizing meet-ups in their communities to build offline relationships with like-minded women from the group. Here's everything you need to know about hosting your own event, from finding the venue and picking the topic to handling RSVPs and making sure everything runs smoothly.
  • 3. STEP 1: Decide on the Tone of Your Event
  • 4. 4 Determine a few key details beforehand. Do you want your event to be open networking? Will there be a host leading a conversation or a special guest lecturing? How long will it last? Will there be a theme?
  • 5. ©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Popular Topics in Connect to Spark Conversations at Your Event • How can women be successful in the business world? • Tips for asking for a raise • What is your biggest struggle at work? • Deciding when it’s time to leave a job • How to thrive during a career transition • Finding a mentor • Work/life balance and ―having it all‖ • How can you be a better boss? • Handling your personal finances • Dealing with workplace stress • Career advancement
  • 6. How to Find a Speaker for Your Event • Do a keyword search on LinkedIn for someone in your area who is an expert in your event’s topic. • Tap into your resources, including colleagues, fellow alums and contacts from other professional groups who specialize in the event’s topic. • Reach out to local businesses; not only will they be flattered that you’re contacting them, but they’ll also likely jump at the opportunity to represent their company in front of a group of professionals. • Reach out to local authors, consultants and professors. • Check the career section of your local paper for authors and columnists ©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
  • 7. STEP 2: Be Strategic About Your Guest List
  • 8. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 8 Know what you want to accomplish at the event. This will help guide who you need to bring together for the event. Setting realistic goals regarding the number of guests is very important once you’ve identified who you want to target. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 9. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 9 Send out a list of confirmed guests during the invitation process. When potential attendees can see the quality of the company they will be in, they’re more likely to RSVP, and they’re less likely to cancel nearer the event. Michele Langer, Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications
  • 10. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK STEP 3: Choose the Right Venue
  • 11. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 11 Consider size and vibe. It’s important to find a space that can accommodate everyone, but that’s not too cavernous if your attendance is low. We try to host our events at the newest, coolest, hippest venues in the city—places that everyone wants to go to but can’t get in on their own. Rachael Honowitz, Associate Director, Event Marketing at People Magazine
  • 12. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 12 Remember: location is everything. Think about the location of your venue in relation to where your attendees will be coming from. It will likely be difficult to get people to cross town in rush hour traffic. Gretchen Douglass, Marketing Manager at Deloitte
  • 13. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 13 Pay attention to even the tiniest details. While hosting an event at one of the newest and most popular lounges might sound like a cool idea, I’ve found that the lighting at a lot of the trendier places is set low. Poor lighting when people are exchanging information can actually be more alienating than intimate. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 14. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 14 Insist on exclusivity. A venue hosting more than one event in the same space at the same time is a major red flag. If managed properly, it could work, but it’s not worth compromising the experience of the guest. Save yourself the headache, and either adjust your timing or find a new location. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 15. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 15 Ask about perks. We negotiate drink specials and ideally free appetizers. Bars recognize that if they supply free food attendees are likely to stay longer and order more drinks, which is where they make their real revenue. Heather Frank Turk, Event Strategist, Mediabistro
  • 16. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 16 Check (and re-check) the technology. I cannot stress enough how important it is to check and double-check the AV needs of an event before you sign that contract. This will include site visits prior to the event so that there are no surprises on the day of. Michele Langer, Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications
  • 17. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 17 Do site inspections. I do them during the day when the lights are on— that’s a true test. Almost any space can look good at night with the lights are turned down low and the candles are lit. Rachael Honowitz, Associate Director, Event Marketing at People Magazine
  • 18. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK STEP 4: Managing Logistics
  • 19. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 19 Use a virtual multi-tasker. We use the Meeting Command Center by Travizon Meeting Management. It promotes the event, tracks RSVPs, and creates name badges. It can send out pre-event emails and thank-you-for-attending emails, and track things like dietary restrictions. It’s much easier than tracking manually or via spreadsheet. Kristin Twombly, Corporate Meeting and Event Manager
  • 20. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 20 Create a Splash. Splash sends invitations like Evite, manages RSVPS like MailChimp, sells tickets like Eventbrite, and creates a page for post-party photos like Flickr. The post-party element aggregates all the photos and press and social media impressions from the event with just one click. Rachael Honowitz, Associate Director, Event Marketing at People Magazine
  • 21. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 21 Send reminders. Once an invitee has confirmed, I send the attendee both an Outlook and iCal invitation for them to store on their calendar. I also schedule the reminder for two days in advance so they have more than enough time to be reminded of the event. Michele Langer, Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications
  • 22. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 22 Print name badges. We don’t use name badges onsite at our events, but for those that do, I find that people always appreciate when you have their names printed. For walk-ins, instead of hand writing their names badges, it’s always a nice touch to have a printer onsite to print the name badge. Rachael Honowitz, Associate Director, Event Marketing at People Magazine
  • 23. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 23 Keep your info current. It’s important to collect business contact information on site too. This is key for your follow-up and for your future invite lists. Rachael Honowitz, Associate Director, Event Marketing at People Magazine
  • 24. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK STEP 5: Help Break the Ice
  • 25. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 25 Get the ambiance right. Background music, soft lighting, name badges including titles and credentials and—of course—cocktails help to create an ambiance conducive for networking. Kristin Twombly, Corporate Meeting and Event Manager
  • 26. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 26 Generate buzz before the event. We create lists on Google Drive and Twitter where registered participants can log their Twitter (or other social) IDs, see who else is going, and use a designated event hashtag to engage in conversation before an event. Michele Langer, Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications
  • 27. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 27 Foster connections. We include guests’ LinkedIn profiles so they can learn more about the other attendees. It often provides an ―aha‖ moment, whether they know someone in common, are alumni of the same school, or find something interesting to strike up a conversation over. Michele Langer, Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications
  • 28. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 28 Make attendees feel welcome right away. I always, always introduce a person arriving at the dinner to someone who is already there before welcoming the next arrival. Michele Langer, Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications
  • 29. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 29 Get the most out of social media. Bizzabo is a mobile app that really helps break the ice. It has social-media integration that allows you to connect with other attendees through LinkedIn. It also links their Facebook and Twitter profiles. It increases interactivity before, during and after the event. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 30. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 30 Help get the conversation flowing. When I do nametags, I write a question relative to the event and have people fill in the blank. At our holiday/New Year’s party, I did, ―In 2013, I hope to __.‖ It gets people interested in looking at what others wrote. Becky Richardson, Administrative Assistant.
  • 31. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 31 Make a game of it. I got to a networking event and was given someone else’s name tag! I had to find this man, interview him and introduce him to the rest of the group. It was fun, and I made a new friend! Louise Cote, Design Director
  • 32. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 32 For more information Be sure to check out our SlideShare on Breaking the Ice. It’s packed with fantastic tips from Connect members about how to avoid those cringe-worthy awkward moments when striking up conversations with strangers!
  • 33. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK STEP 6: Promote Your Event
  • 34. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 34 Employ platforms that you know your audience is engaged in. Social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter help to get the word out, but in my experience, email marketing has been the most effective way to get people to attend events. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 35. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 35 Post your event in Connect! • Make sure to announce the event in the group a few weeks in advance and post a reminder a few days before the event • Go to www.linkedin.com/womenconnect • Post a new discussion that includes the city and date in the headline
  • 36. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 36 Use social media to its full advantage. We mainly use email blasts and our website to promote upcoming events. Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are great resources for promoting as well. Kristin Twombly, Corporate Meeting and Event Manager
  • 37. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 37 Dig into the online toolbox. Some of the most user-friendly and popular tools I’ve used are Eventbrite, Brown Paper Tickets and Splash! With Splash!, you can create an event website, send online invitations and engage guests during and after the event with a real-time social media feed. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 38. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 38 Mark your calendar — and theirs. If you’re still building your event mailing list, I’d recommend posting on official calendars like BizBash, Eventful, MasterPlanner, GuestofaGuest or EventBrite. Engaging bloggers who write along the beat of your is also a useful strategy for promoting the event. Sonya Spann, Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC.
  • 39. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 39 Get Social Send tweets and Facebook touts to keep attendees updated. Include key handles and hashtags (@LinkedIn @Citibank #profwomen). Check out our examples—and feel free to use them for your own event! • Looking forward to seeing the #profwomen of @LinkedIn @Citbank Connect this Thursday at Cyril’s for #networking night! • Chicago members of Connect: Professional Women’s Network, RSVP for next Thursday’s networking event! http://www.eventbrite.com/ #profwomen Keep in touch after the event. You can prepare a general follow-up email for guests in advance to save time. Send the note to attendees one or two days after the event and include photos and highlights. ©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
  • 40. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 40 Get Social • Submit a calendar listing for your event to local news outlet and community sites • If you have a notable speaker, consider sending out a media alert to local press to cover the event • Invite local reporters and bloggers to attend to build relationships with local media outlets ©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
  • 41. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 41 6-8 weeks before event: • Decide on a content theme and the format for your event • Reserve a venue • Book a guest speaker, if you plan to have one 4-5 weeks before event: • Draw up your guest list and begin gathering contact information • Develop your promotional plan • Send out a save-the-date note • Visit potential venues during the time of day you’ll be having your event to ensure lighting and noise level are acceptable Timeline Your go-to guide for when to do what to make sure your event goes off without a hitch. 3 weeks before event: • Post the event on Connect • Select a food/beverage menu or happy hour specials • Discuss lighting and AV set-up with the venue, if you have a speaker • Send out official invitations • Develop takeaway materials 2 weeks before the event: • Begin social promotion for the event • Finalize the agenda and share with the speaker and venue • Begin local press outreach, if warranted
  • 42. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 42 Week of event: • Send out reminder emails and social media updates • Print out RSVP list • Prepare name tags • Confirm number of attendees with the venue • Print/compile takeaway materials Day of event: • Arrive at venue 1-2 hours before the event; double check AV equipment, seating and other details. • Live tweet during the event using Connect’s #profwomen hashtag • Take photos! Day after event: • Send thank-you emails with follow-up materials to attendees and speakers; ask for feedback • Follow up with press if you’d planned media coverage • Post an event recap/photos on Connect Timeline
  • 43. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 43 Resources A handy guide to our experts’ favorite event-planning tools Eventbrite - Track RSVPs, make badges, check attendees in, etc. Plus, it’s free if your event is free! Meeting Command Center by Travizon – Helps plan every key aspect of your event, including site selection, logistics, and technology. Cvent – Software that sends invitations, create a custom website, register attendees, collect payment, and more. Bizzabo – Mobile app that helps both organizers and attendees manage events. Brown Paper Tickets – Website that lets you buy and sell tickets to events. Splash! – Create event website, send online invitations, and engage guests with a real-time social-media feed. BizBash – Magazine about event planning, plus a database of 46,000 vendors. Eventful – Website that lets planners post events for the public to peruse. GuestofaGuest – New York-based company that covers parties and events all over the city.
  • 44. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK 44 Gretchen Douglass Marketing Manager at Deloitte Rachael Honowitz Associate Director, Event Marketing at People Michele Langer Marketing & Events Director, BtoB/Crain Communications Heather Frank Turk Event Strategist, Mediabistro Sonya Spann Founder/Event Director Here, There, and Everywhere Events, LLC. Kristin Twombly Corporate Meeting and Event Manager Contributors Special thanks to the event-planning gurus who shared their industry secrets with Connect: Professional Women’s Network! ©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
  • 45. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 45 Join the conversation! Connect: Professional Women’s Network, Powered by Citi, is an online community on LinkedIn that helps women achieve the careers they want and discuss the issues relevant to their success. For more great insights from Connect members, check out the discussion: Tips for hosting a networking event Visit linkedin.com/womenconnect for more information and to join the group for free! PHOTO CREDITS: Slide 1: Fortune Live Media Slide 3: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 6: E~Chan Slide 7: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 8: Dimitris_k/Shutterstock Slide 11: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 15: Kate Ausburn Slide 16: Steven Depolo Slide 19: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 20: Heartlover1717 Slide 21: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 23: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 24: Jer*y Slide 27: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 28: Dell's Official Flickr Page Slide 34: Dell’s Official Flickr Page Slide 36: Mykl Roventine Slide 37: MIKI Yoshihito Slide 38: Jason A. Howie Slide 39 Joe Lanman
  • 46. CONNECT: PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S NETWORK©2013 LinkedIn Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 46