Live networking events and workshops can be an effective way to grow your business and increase your overall visibility as an expert in your field. It also can be an excellent way to showcase your expertise. Over the years, I've hosted over 100 or more live events of various sizes. Some of them have been small, but some of them have included upwards of 200 people. All of them, however, were effective in increasing my circle and reputation as a business expert and thus increased my bottom line. I would recommend to anyone in business to plan a live event or workshop to help your business grow. But don't jump into the water cold. Start small to get warmed up and follow the tips listed below.
- Start with the end in mind. When seeking to host a live event, figure out right from the start what it is that you're seeking to accomplish. Is it that you're looking for more leads and clients for your business? Or is it that you're looking to make money from the event, by providing value to your target market? Or are you seeking to create an informational product from your event.? Whatever the end game may be start with that end game in mind, so you can know how to plan and execute your live event.
- Set a Budget. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of an event and before you know the costs can balloon to a point where it is impossible to return. Creating a budget right from the start will help you keep costs under control and will help you make certain decisions on what you can or cannot do.
- Food or No Food. Room rental these days are expensive, but food costs can be pretty outrageous. The costs of catering can blow your budget in a New York minute. So I encourage you to be careful when considering adding food to your live event. The best thing that you can do, especially if you're offering an all day event or a morning event is to offer a light breakfast. This will help keep the costs down and breakfast can hold many of your attendees for a very long time.
- Read the fine print. Hotels and catering halls have a way of hiding costs in the contract. Some venues prevent you from bringing food in from the outside and even prevent your guests from bringing food in from the outside and will charge you if they see it happening. Be careful and cautious for these types of things and try not to book an event with a venue that has these kinds of rules.
- Create a Marketing Budget. Hosting an event is a good idea. But if you don't market it properly, you will end up in a room all alone. Create a marketing budget for your event and use it to promote, promote, promote!
- Set up an affiliate program. There is nothing more beneficial to your event than having an affiliate program for it. This will alone other people to promote your events for you. The more people that you have telling others about what you're doing, the more potential attendees for your program.
- Set the right price. I host both FREE and PAID events. And I find that the quality of the attendees are better at the paid events vs the non-paid . It seems as if when people have more "skin in the game" they appear to be more serious about everything. That is...more serious about attending and more serious about their business. Pricing your events high will bring you a different caliber of people, but finding the right people to pay a high price is like finding a needle in a hay stack. The higher the price, the lower no. of attendees. Most people who sell high ticket items, don't expect a huge turnout. Their events are usually more mastermind type of events. But figure out what the right price is for you and your market and try not to deviate from it.
- Get Sponsorship. This may be easier said than done. But sponsorship is a great way to help defray the costs of events and it also is good for 3rd party endorsements of you and your product.
- Use Eventbrite. I highly recommend using sites like Eventbrite because they will promote your event in their search. This will garner you a lot of exposure.
- Use Social Media. Social media is a great way to get more attention to your event. Sites like Facebook will allow you to create an event on the calendar and you can market to your friends. Also you can ask your friends to post your event on their walls. This is especially beneficial when you have friends who have a lot of friends.
I hope that this information is helpful to you. Like I said in the beginning of this article, live events have worked for me. They have helped me to build a name for myself and expand my position as an expert in my field. I have been able to get clients. I have also learned how to make my FREE events profitable. And on top of all that, I am increasing my lists and my bottom line because even those who may not attend my free events, but have registered all become new names added to my lists and you never know when those who have registered for a past event, will show up at a future one.
Learn more ways to promote your business with 50 Ways to Market Your Business.
Toni Coleman Brown is the Founder of the Network for Women in Business. She is an author, small business consultant and social media strategist. She consults with clients around the world and speaks regularly at live events, conferences, radio shows, teleclasses and on webinars and podcasts.