Most building industry professionals recognize the importance of networking for their business.
While attending conferences or scheduling meetups are great ways to connect
with others, an often overlooked (or avoided) approach is organizing a larger event
Hosting your own events enables you to build relationships more
strategically than a conference typically allows, because you’re controlling
the guest list, and as the convener, you get “credit” for the connections your
guests make with one another.
Many of my clients who are looking to scale their business have
trailed this approach and find it much easier than initially expected: you
don’t need a special skill set, and the logistics don’t have to be overwhelming.
If you’re interested in organizing your own networking
gathering, here are five strategies you can use to curate your attendees and
bring a fascinating mix of people together.
Think strategically about educating your audience.
People will attend your event if it focuses on solving a problem
they already have (or will have in the future). For example, if you want to
build credibility as a building renovator convene events that educate attendees
on the best practice renovation techniques in your chosen niche.
Decide if your event will have a theme.
One way to guarantee attendees have something to talk about is
to convene guests who may not know each other, but have something in common. Using the previous example, you might focus on
all the architects and building designers at one event, and a second event
focused on retail customers.
Consider recruiting a co-host.
But what if you feel like you don’t know enough people to
invite? Think about non-competing businesses that have the same customer as you
and are also interested in growing their business and reinforcing their
credibility in the market. This will also have the effect of increasing the
credibility and appeal to the audience of the event as it won’t be as easily
perceived as a marketing stunt. This enables us to take pressure off at the
event (there are two people who can make sure the conversation is moving
smoothly), as well as cross-pollinate our social networks and meet new people.
Leverage existing contacts to build your guest list.
Once you’ve hosted someone at a successful seminar, they become
an ambassador of sorts. They understand what the events are like, so they have
a sense of who else would make a good attendee and be eager to attend. You can
leverage this dynamic to fill subsequent events with interesting guests. Follow
up with your guests afterward, asking if they have friends they think would
enjoy attending in the future, and if they would introduce you.
Networking is essential for business success, yet only a small percentage
of building trade businesses actually make the effort to host event — often
because they don’t know where to start with assembling a guest list. By
following the strategies above, you can bring together remarkable people and
deepen professional relationships that will prove critical in the years to
Adapted HBR Jan 2019 Clark