One of the best ways to build your business and to establish yourself within your community is to hold an event and invite the major players as well as the audiences who admire them. You can set this up in a number of ways, from a small and intimate conference to large and extravagant conventions. Those decisions will all depend upon your budget, how much time you have, etc. We’re not going to talk about those things in this article.
In this article we’re going to talk about the steps that you can take to make sure that your event’s attendees have a good time and get as much as possible from your event. After all, nobody wants to be known for hosting duds, right?
Create an App
One of the best ways to set up your conference for success is to create an event-specific app for your attendees to use. If you don’t have app building experience, that’s okay. Companies like DoubleDutch build template apps that you can customize to your event. Make sure to include your program information as well as tools people can use to create their own schedules and interact with each other, with presenters, and with you and the other event organizers. These apps are great because they can be used to update information on an as-needed basis and because they encourage people to talk to each other, even if those people might feel shy about approaching each other in person.
Social media is a godsend for event organizers. It provides an easy way to keep your presenters and attendees up to date on developments before the event takes place, as well as channels for them to keep in touch afterwards, and to talk about follow-up issues and offer feedback. Many events use Facebook for this because it’s easy and free and the simplest to set up. A few also use Twitter. Slack is also catching on very quickly. It’s also helpful to include message boards and forums on your event’s website (make sure your event has its own website!) as well.
One great way to encourage networking is to set up smaller events within your larger event. Holding meetups and providing meet and greet opportunities give both attendees and presenters avenues to meet each other in casual settings that are designed for socializing. You can hold these events within the confines of your event space or, to reduce formalities, hold them off site in local pubs and restaurants. It’s also a good idea to encourage attendees and presenters to arrange their own small events and side gigs.
There are some event organizers who hate the idea of setting up a vendor hall or artist’s alley within their events. Others love it. Regardless of your feelings, one thing is universally true: shopping encourages conversations. People can chat about the things they’ve purchased (or are thinking of purchasing). They can meet great vendors and artists. Plus, as an added bonus to you: selling booth space within your event will help you offset the event’s cost.
Meals and Entertainment
Depending on the length of your event, offering a (free with event badge) catered dinner for your presenters and attendees is a great way to encourage them to mingle. People love free food and will appreciate having fewer meals to purchase. Providing free entertainment in the evenings encourages people to congregate and network even after the “business” part of the event is complete.
There are plenty of ways to put on a fantastic event. The most important among them is making sure that the people who attend meet each other and have a good time. Use the tips in this article to help you achieve that goal.