Hosting your own startup event involves a lot more than menu-planning. Make sure yours goes off without a hitch.
The question we asked entrepreneurs: What is your number 1 tip for hosting a successful company or industry event?
1. Make It Easy
Know your audience and what they want. Whether it’s picking a convenient venue for time-strapped attendees, providing a car service to chauffeur guests or putting together a goodie bag for everyone, make it as easy as possible for your dream list of attendees to say, “Yes.”
– Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
2. Select the Venue Carefully
I host my city’s largest monthly networking event for young professionals, so this is near and dear to me. My biggest tip is to choose your venue wisely in terms of location, layout of the space and the decor. You want the venue to instantly tell people what the tone and mood of the event are. Convenience for your attendees, such as easy parking, should be a priority, too.
– Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kid
3. Make Your Event Group-Friendly
While it may sound stereotypical, it has been my experience that women are less likely to come alone. Create strategies that allow them to form groups, which increases participation and creates an accountability mechanism for those who have promised to attend.
– Emily Eldridge Holdman, PeopleKit
4. Focus on the Smallest Details
Once the big things are right, paying attention to the small details shows you’re taking extra care of attendees. It doesn’t have to cost extra, but providing thoughtful touches, such as a map of the best coffee shops and eateries near the venue, mobile chargers or a photo booth, will help make your event stand out.
– Lea Woodward, Inspiring Ventures
5. Break the Ice
When we do a company event, we always start with an ice breaker that gets everyone on the team talking about something personal, such as a dream vacation destination or the best concert. This is important because we are a growing company with new employees who come on monthly. It breaks down barriers and gets the team feeling comfortable with one another right away.
– Marjorie Adams, AQB
5. Maintain Eye Contact
Walk around, and introduce yourself to everyone. Make eye contact even though you’re all over the place because it’s your event. Assume the role of making people feel good about themselves. Mix in sincerity, and you’ll have colossal success.
– Alexis Levine, Savvy Media
6. Partner Whenever Possible
Planning an event is a lot of work, especially if you do it on a regular basis. One of the easiest ways to lighten the load is to partner with other individuals and organizations. You get help planning the event, and by getting a partner on board, you’ll have access to her network to ensure attendance at your event.
– Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
7. Give Guests What They Need
An industry or even company event should not be a forum to endlessly talk about yourself. Even if they like your organization, I guarantee that people will not come to hear a lot of self promotion. Rather, use events as a platform to offer valuable advice in your area and quality networking opportunities. Give to your potential customer before you expect them to give to you.
– Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work
8. Utilize Your Network
Utilize your network to bring people together who can help each other grow their businesses. Make connections between people before the evening of the event so guests are more eager to attend. Knowing that you will walk away not only with a few business cards but with connections that will help you increase your client base is key.
– Amanda Barbara, Pubslush
As a tech startup, we’re always looking for ways to collaborate with other innovative companies. Combining resources and expertise with another company will not only enhance an event, but it will also give you the opportunity to learn firsthand from another company making an impact in your industry.
– Erica Bell, Hukkster
10. Make It Valuable
If you want the right people to come, you have to provide the right value. That means you need to understand exactly what your event is willing to offer in order to target key people as attendees. This goal includes everything from how much you charge for it to where the venue is. If you don’t know the value you are providing, things won’t add up.
– Benish Shah, Before the Label
11. Create a Welcoming Environment
We host a handful of events for campus recruiters throughout the year, and our goal is to make the attendees feel like we would ideally like to be treated when we go to events. One of the simplest and most effective things we always make sure to do is offer a warm, personal greeting to each person who comes through the door.
– Lauren Friese, TalentEgg
12. Focus on ROI
Events have a reputation for being about relationship building or brand recognition, but remember that company events can be ROI-focused, too. Make sure you structure the event so it drives your short-term and long-term goals. If you plan the event with your corporate objectives at the forefront of your mind, it will make the planning more seamless and ensure the event yields a great return.
– Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
13. Make It Sustainable