I’ve been involved in networking events for over a decade now – either as a marketing assistant to a national networking chain, marketing advisor to small regional events or networking event organiser in my own right
And I’ve found there’s 2 types of people attend networking events
1. People who understand networking is about relationship building 1st – by getting to know and understand people they build up a reputation and ultimately sell long term
2. People who run from networking event to networking event with the sole of intention of selling rather than getting to know people
The former win. The latter lose
As an networking event organiser I always approach an event with the idea I’m the least important person in the room – the people who I want to make feel important are the guest speaker, the attendees and the venue. I want everyone else to win and if they win I win
As an attendee however I’d 100% recommend the 1st person you speak to when attending an event is the event organiser – after all if they have such a wide network of people that they bring together they’re a connector you truly should know and build relationships with
Here are 7 Questions To Ask A Networking Event Organiser
1. What do you do when you’re not organising networking events?
I know that some people who attend our networking events think that organising events is what I do full time, when what I actually do is help businesses make more money online via our social media training and social media management services. I work with around 1500 people and business owners a year
I also know events organisers who are web designers, consultants for debt collectors, health business owners, authors and business coaches
Remember the old networking adage – it’s not just in the room, but who they know also
If you just view someone as an event organiser then you don’t get understand how you can collaborate or work together or support each other
2. Who is your ideal customer?
This isn’t just a good question for the event organiser, but for anyone attending
Putting yourself in the position of connector is a really good position to be in – people always remember the people that put them in touch with others
It opens up a discussion to not just talking about who their ideal customer is, but also that you’ve worked with that type of business and how you’ve helped them
3. Tell me why you set up this event?
Finding out the why behind an event is really important
It gets to understand how they see the world and how they do business
For example we set up Alex & His Sisters because 70% of my training clients are women in business and every time I suggested a networking event I go to they said “8am was not a good time for them”. I heard this time and time again and decided to put on an event at 9.30am after the school run
On our evening events and our Big Altrincham Socials I realised nobody else was doing casual events for people to simply talk to each other
4. Which types of businesses attend?
For the past few years a large majority of networking events stopped handing out attendees list for a very good reason
Sharks would attend networking events, pick up the attendees list, have a coffee, leave and then email spam people
The events organiser knows exactly who is attending and when you ask “Which types of businesses attend?” naturally the return question is “which types of business do you want to meet?”
5. Who would you recommend I speak to?
“I’d really recommend you speak to …”
I must use that phrase more than any other at networking events
I have a black book of contacts I’ve made over the years that I can recommend with trust
You want a graphic designer – I’ve known and worked with one for 20 years
You want a web designer – I’ve known one who just did my running website
You want a printer – I know 3 or 4
Pretty much you name it and I know a great one (and if I don’t I’ll make it my mission to find one for you if you remind me on email)
6. Which other networking events would you recommend?
My time is valuable and so is yours
Apart from my own events I only attend 1 or 2 others events a month
I do so because I feel serial networking is a waste of time and I’ve tried most events and found ones I like and work for me and don’t attend ones I don’t like or don’t work for me
Every business is different, but I can give honest impartial recommendations on other events to attend
7. Can we take a selfie so I can post about the event on Social Media?
Have the conversation 1st – build a relationship 1st – don’t just run up and ask for the selfie
There’s something wonderfully authentic about a selfie
It’s warts and all and I’ve got used to seeing photos of me with bad hair and cheesiest grin
I also love that someone cares enough to ask for a selfie and post about an event on social media to help others discover great events
People love people
People love seeing your face with other people they know
If you feel there’s a connection at the networking event, but you also want to chat to other people (and sense other people want to chat to the organiser)
Swap business cards and commit to a 121 outside the event
Great networking starts with the initial meeting and ends in 121 and further catch ups
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Alex McCann is owner of Altrincham HQ – a social media management and training company based in Altrincham, Cheshire that has worked with 100s of local business developing their social media strategy. Alex has 400+ LinkedIn testimonials and is ranked number 1 for Social Media Marketing in the UK via independent customer reviews on Freeindex.