Most building industry professionals recognize the importance of networking for their business.While attending conferences or scheduling meetups are great ways to connectwith others, an often overlooked (or avoided) approach is organizing a larger eventyourself.
Hosting your own events enables you to build relationships morestrategically than a conference typically allows, because you’re controllingthe guest list, and as the convener, you get “credit” for the connections yourguests make with one another.
Many of my clients who are looking to scale their business havetrailed this approach and find it much easier than initially expected: youdon’t need a special skill set, and the logistics don’t have to be overwhelming.
If you’re interested in organizing your own networkinggathering, here are five strategies you can use to curate your attendees andbring a fascinating mix of people together.
Think strategically about educating your audience.
People will attend your event if it focuses on solving a problemthey already have (or will have in the future). For example, if you want tobuild credibility as a building renovator convene events that educate attendeeson 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 isto convene guests who may not know each other, but have something in common. Using the previous example, you might focus onall the architects and building designers at one event, and a second eventfocused on retail customers.
Consider recruiting a co-host.
But what if you feel like you don’t know enough people toinvite? Think about non-competing businesses that have the same customer as youand are also interested in growing their business and reinforcing theircredibility in the market. This will also have the effect of increasing thecredibility and appeal to the audience of the event as it won’t be as easilyperceived as a marketing stunt. This enables us to take pressure off at theevent (there are two people who can make sure the conversation is movingsmoothly), 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 becomean ambassador of sorts. They understand what the events are like, so they havea sense of who else would make a good attendee and be eager to attend. You canleverage this dynamic to fill subsequent events with interesting guests. Followup with your guests afterward, asking if they have friends they think wouldenjoy attending in the future, and if they would introduce you.
Networking is essential for business success, yet only a small percentageof building trade businesses actually make the effort to host event — oftenbecause they don’t know where to start with assembling a guest list. Byfollowing the strategies above, you can bring together remarkable people anddeepen professional relationships that will prove critical in the years tocome.
Adapted HBR Jan 2019 Clark