(This is a guest article by Chris Rufle)
Putting on a networking event at your venue can be beneficial for you in a few different ways. It can give you the opportunity to sell a weak night, draw in new quality leads, and help other business executives further their businesses all at the same time. As long as you follow a few steps to make sure you plan your event properly it can be a success.
First, pick a night. Since people are primarily coming for the networking event instead of the game, you have the opportunity to pick the date you prefer. This gives you the ability to take one of your weaker nights and sell it while hosting a successful group outing with great potential for future leads.
Who do you sell? Having quality attendees will not only benefit the other networkers, but help you as well. Try and invite people that could also be future ticket leads for you. Use this opportunity to invite contacts that may not have ever been to the ballpark before. These are the people you have been calling all week trying to help them realize the value coming out to the ballpark can have for their business. This is a perfect opportunity to show them you are right.
Having quality networkers is also better for the fellow attendees. Nothing is worst then showing up to a networking event filled with people that are just soliciting their product or handing out their resume to everyone. A tip given to me early on in my career was “If you want to be successful in networking, you need to offer more than you ask for.” Inviting quality participants will help the overall success and result with people wanting to come back to future networking events.
Of course there is no exact set of rules when organizing your event, but here are some helpful guidelines to follow:
1. Team up with a local networking group – they are established and they put on these events all the time. They will already have a large list of contacts and can easily send out information about your event. Also if you pick the right group, the association with their name can help legitimize your event.
2. Set your price– There are a few things that you have to take into account here. Do some research and see how much another events in the area are charging. Try and keep it at that level if you can. If you are able to host the event in a picnic / party deck area where you can have food included is always a plus.
3. Set an agenda – This will give the night structure and keep things organized. It doesn’t have to be to elaborate. Keep is simple (5pm – Registration and Open Networking; 5:30pm can be a spot for a special guest to speak; 6:45pm Drawings and 50/50 Raffle winners; 7:15pm Game time).
4. Utilize social media – Take advantage of outlets such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook to promote your event. They are free and allow you opportunities for your guests to meet and interact before even arriving. List your event on these social networking sites and count on some help from your local network to share the information.
5. Keep detailed records – It is likely you will be running around talking to lots of people, making it difficult to keep track of everyone’s name. If you have a registration table you can keep track of who came. It can also be a reference point when following up with everyone about future networking events and future tickets sales depending on how your conversations went that night.
Remember, by setting up a successful networking event you will move more available inventory, build your network in the local business community, and grow your potential future sales leads. Have you hosted similar networking events at your venue, what tips would you share?
Chris is currently an account executive for The Long Island Ducks Baseball Team. Responsible for selling the total product mix including Full and Partial Season Ticket Plans, Group Tickets, and Corporate Partnerships. He has may interests with-in the sports business world such as: Networking, Sharing Ideas, Social Media, and Helping others. Chris founded Sports Group Sales a web site deciated to the sharing of ideas and practices of the industry. Follow Chris on Twitter @crufle or you can find him on LinkedIn.