Have you ever been to one of those deadpan networking events that people are supposed to connect over tasteless food and (at least hopefully) a glass of wine? While networking seems to be the thing to do nowadays for job development or sales connections, those events bore me to tears and are super awkward for people (like me) who get anxious at the thought of shaking hands and talking about themselves.
Thankfully, people who plan these events are working hard to make them not-so mind-numbing. The efforts to improve networking events probably stems from the gigantic amount of competition for being the one networking event to attend, rather than the one to skip in the many event opportunities that are popping up. If you are one of those people looking to take your networking event to the next level then keep on reading for my tips for throwing a speed networking event that kicks those other events to the curb.
(More interested in tips on how to wow everyone in the room when you attend a speed networking event? Check back tomorrow for my post on that!)
A great networking event needs to have a good group of attendees that have a purpose for getting together, a venue that is conducive to discussions, decent refreshments and maybe some additional entertainment or incentive for guests to enjoy. I’ve thrown several networking events in my role with local networking group Portland Bloggers. Some of the events have been out of this world awesome… others, well, lets just call them learning experiences. Today’s post was inspired by our last Portland Bloggers’ meet-up hosted by Passionfruit, because it was on of those events that I just can’t help but smile for weeks after the event is over.
General networking events really do no one in attendance very much good. Make sure your event has a unique reason for your guests to attend. This part is usually fairly easy for most business networking events. Our purpose was to bring Portland-area bloggers together to talk about the ins and outs of blogging. Other networking events could be for certain industries or event working mothers or fathers groups.
To help give our event more of a purpose we provided a structure to this networking event that fit a speed networking theme. Instead of a one-on-one speed networking event (which we did and loved last year) we tried a group-style speed networking event instead. People would be with a group of people for 15 minutes going around the table answering questions. Guests could ask their own questions or use one of the many provided questions at the table.
This type of event helped give the whole event a purpose that surrounded around blogging, while still leaving it open for guests to really shine in talking about their individual interests. The part I liked the most is it was really helpful for people (like me) who get nervous in meet and greet situations. It is much easier to answer a question get to know others when there are a set of rules and questions to guide the conversation!
Networking today isn’t just about networking in person. A large part of networking goes on before and after the event with the use of an invitation page where guests can interact before the event, great signage at the event that includes hashtags and ways to connect and finally a hashtag that guests can use to connect with other attendees after the event. Doing this not only helps your guests connect and find more substantial connections from your event, but it increases the buzz around your event. The better buzz surrounding your event the more opportunity to connect with potential attendees to help make your NEXT event a success.
We use Eventbrite to sell tickets to our events which allows people to connect using Facebook. We tend to also set up a Facebook event page so guests can connect and talk prior to our events. Finally, all of our events include a #PortlandBloggers hashtag so guests can connect after any of our events.
I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to at restaurants or bars where the music was too loud to hear what anyone was saying and the space was too crowded to move about freely. I’d spend the entire time yelling across a bar top to one or two people instead of getting around and connecting with multiple people.
We used the office space of Passionfruit which was the perfect venue for an event such as this. We were able to create unique conversation areas within the venue to make it easier for people to gravitate towards conversation areas. Because we were doing the group speed networking we wanted each person to have a seat and possibly a place to put down their drinks and food plates. Tables, chairs, and comfy living room furniture met our needs without looking too “office” like.
Don’t bore guests or waste your money on trays of food and bottles of cheap wine that are boring and won’t be consumed. Don’t worry about spending a bundle on a ton of food either… people go to networking events to NETWORK and not to enjoy a meal (unless it is a networking dinner, but then you are in a different event all together). Make sure there are a few quality options for guests to enjoy and make sure that everything is easy to eat without the need to sit down and pull out a knife and fork. Adult libations are nice and do help to keep the conversations flowing, but they aren’t absolutely necessary or appropriate for ALL networking events.
Local bagel shop Bowery Bagels supplied the best little bagel bites (already pre-schmeared!) for our brunch networking event. They were easy to eat and didn’t require guests to get out of networking mode to put together a snack. We added some fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and a few tasty bagel topping options to round out the food tables. While I’m a big fan of having adult libations at networking events, we decided due to the time and theme of our event to stick with coffee and juices. Amazing local coffee shop Black Rock Coffee supplied a great tasting brew for guests to enjoy along with both dairy and non-dairy creamer options.
The goal for a networking event, especially a speed networking event, is to well… network. But, occasionally in all of the conversations guests may need a break from the constant conversations or a reason to stay to the end after they’ve met everyone they feel that they want to meet. Adding in a little extra entertainment or incentive is always a good idea. Music is great to play throughout the event, but make sure it isn’t too loud or distracting as it will take away from the purpose of your event. Other great entertainment options include a photo booth, ping pong table, or group activity that can get your guests interacting together rather than just chatting over a dish of food. Giveaways or goodie bags are great incentives to keep guests til the end of the action and thank them for their time. You want them to come back to your next event!
Make sure all areas of your event are labeled even down to your guests. Have name tags for guests to wear throughout the event. Have the wifi password and hashtag posted up EVERYWHERE. Make sure you have clear signage for bathrooms or any other necessary instructions for guests.
If this is your one and only networking event then you may not care if you have images from the event. However, if you are planning on throwing regular networking events then having images of your events to use in promotion of future events or even just as an engagement opportunity with previous guests after an event is over, then you want to have great images. Likely, you’ll be too busy networking and making sure the event is running smoothly to get images yourself. Hire a photographer to make sure you have images of your event!
Portland-local photographer Aubrie LeGault shot our last two speed networking events and each time she made a whole bunch of people talking look like rock stars.
A big, big thank you goes out to all the awesome sponsors that helped make the recent Portland Bloggers’ networking event possible. I appreciate the support of local Portland bloggers and hope that you do too! Please check out the websites of these awesome supporters of Portland blogs and connect with them online:
Host: Passionfruit | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Photographer: Aubrie LeGault Photography | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Bagels: Bowery Bagels | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Coffee: Black Rock Coffee Bar | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
It’s here! If you are a subscriber to the newsletter then you’ve already seen that I’ve released the 2015 edition of my free printable blog planner. If you haven’t subscribed, then what are you waiting for!? The newsletter doesn’t go out too often and when it does it always has a free printable for you! Some printables are blogging related and others are just about celebrating life in general.
Scroll down to subscribe to the newsletter. After your confirmation you’ll receive an email within the hour with a link to your fresh new printables! Subscribers will receive first dibs at all updates to this file! If you’ve already subscribed and love the new printables then I would appreciate you sharing this post! Just click one of the SHARE buttons at the bottom of this post or pin the images directly! (Lots of thanks for sharing!)
I created this printable file with the same basic bright colored designs from the past two years. That way, if you have already printed out pages previously of the original design, then they should coordinate! That is all well and good… let’s get on wit what is NEW!
Brainstorming for Your Blog:
Tools for Maintaining Your Blog:
* Just starting out to monetize your blog or looking for more info on blog monetization? I loved the Blogging Blueprint course on How to Make Money with Ads and have seen a big difference since implementing the tips I received in the course.
Planners for Your Blog:
Like what you see? Subscribe today! After your confirmation you’ll receive an email within the hour with a link to your brand new printables.
I’ve been blogging at A Well Crafted Party for nearly five years now and it has gone through its fair share of change as my life changed along with it.
This little blog started as a way to share my DIY party ideas and has morphed into a community where I share everything from recipes to updates on how life is with my toddler. It went from a very niche blog to a wide array of topics. Sometimes, the wide array of topics ended up hurting the overall feeling of the site and didn’t allow for readers to get to know me and my blog the way I’d prefer. Sometimes it allowed for content I never thought I’d possibly have the opportunity to share and the blog has benefited from that.
I brought in guest bloggers often… sometimes to the delight of readers and sometimes, not-so-much. My husband even started his own series called “A Well Crafted Man” but soon slowed on his postings.
The blog has had its highs and its lows. There have been times where I’ve had so much content and TIME to share that I was posting nearly a dozen posts a week. There have been weeks of silence on the blog.
The design started as a very basic blogger setup with a terrible pixelated header, to professionally designed, to WordPress continuous blog format to a WordPress magazine layout. The logo started out as a crude purple scripted logo all the way to the current clean fonts with elements of blues, greens and yellows.
My mission started as sharing unique party ideas for celebrating life on a budget. It gradually morphed into sharing unique ideas and stories about celebrating life and ways to celebrate moments on a budget. I still feel strongly about both of those missions, I just want to make sure I’m living up to it in my posts.
All of these changes almost directly correlate with the changes in my life. When I started I was a part of a married couple with a non-creative job craving a creative outlet as a hobby. I increased my content schedule and updated the blog look as people began to take notice of that little hobby. Then all of the sudden I was pregnant and about to have a son. I stopped throwing as many parties and wanted to start sharing more about life. That is when I made the switch to a lifestyle blog rather than a parties and event blog. When I became a work-at-home mom picking up freelancing jobs I shifted A Well Crafted Party into a career blog, making “career blogger” moves such as moving to WordPress and increasing my content schedule. When I was sharing so much content in a variety of topics I made the move to a magazine style layout. Then I got a full-time, out of the home job that took me away from this little space I had created.
Everything. Well, almost everything.
I tried ( I really, really tried) to keep up with a more consistent and fruitful schedule of posts in the many topics that I like to post about. I tried taking the time to comment on other people’s blogs, keep up with all the social media, reply to every comment on this site. At some point I realized that I just can’t do it all, no matter how much I want to! One area of responsibility would be going really well, and I’d be failing at so many other areas. So… that leads me to my new view of A Well Crafted Party.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog’s mission. I mean, why in the world am I spending my time and energy brining my ideas to this little side of the internet? Some bloggers make bank on their work and I support them in that endeavor. However, with my focus on my full-time job, this blog is more of a hobby than a career. It needs to be something that I am passionate about if it is going to continue.
In all of my reflection on what I am truly passionate about and WHY I started the blog to begin with I came up with a simple mission statement that I feel I can get behind in everything I do and which supports my personal goals.
A Well Crafted Party is a blog where I celebrate life. My tagline is ‘Life is a Party—Celebrate!’ because I believe that there is something in every day that is worth celebrating and something within every person that deserves to be celebrated. My mission is to explain, inspire and educate others in celebrating the everyday.
Honestly, this is the hardest part for me… I want this blog to be a true reflection of myself, even if it is just the little bits of me and my family that I wish to share. My content will support my blog’s mission. I aim to post three times a week— currently aiming for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday if you are someone who prefers to just check in on posting days rather than following along via a blog reader or social media. I will be posting my usual array of parties, recipes and cocktails. I will also continue to occasionally write about blogging, curvy fashion, non-fussy beauty and family. Though, every post will keep my mission in mind.
I wanted to bring elements of what I have to celebrate every day to the blog in my refreshed blog design. Macey from Moments by Macey took me and the family out to take the images that I’ve shared in the design. I plan on changing up the photos throughout the seasons, but for now it is exactly what I wanted to share with my new mission. I also went with a cleaner and easier to read logo design. Because I am no longer posting several times throughout the week the magazine layout no longer worked for my blog. I’ve reverted to a more traditional blog layout using the Master Theme from Mojo Themes. As I find time I am making my landing pages even more clean and easy to navigate so it is easy to peruse the many posts that the blog contains. The A Well Crafted Pantry page is already up and working and I couldn’t be happier!
Goodness, who knows!? I’m sure it is going to continue to change along with me and my life. I love that I get the opportunity to look back and track my changes through a series of posts and photos. Just like life there are moments of embarrassment and pride. I do hope that I continue to live up to my mission in the future of this blog. I also plan to really strive to be a more consistent blogger. Finally, I have a project up my sleeve that speaks to my mission more than anything I’ve ever done before. I’m so excited to bring share it in March and get the ball rolling on a year long effort!
Thank you for reading A Well Crafted Party. It means a lot to me that you not only stop by these pages, but that you take the time to take it all in. I’d love to know…