Do you have a desk full of business cards from previous networking events? If the answer is ‘yes’, you’re not alone. Most EventProfs attend networking events with the intention of building a strong network… but fail to follow up their initial contacts. When they finally get to make the call, they can’t find their notes or where they met that contact.
What a waste of time and effort!
It’s time to start working smarter, rather than harder. Look at using new technology to make your networking more efficient and less stressful. With the use of cutting edge technology, you’ll never forget the contacts you meet because you can use an app on your phone to store their business cards, along with comprehensive notes about each contact. You can schedule meetings and get reminders about follow-ups, so you’ll never miss another opportunity.
Another major benefit is that you can also research and contact attendees before, during and after the event, so that you can meet the contacts you choose to meet and establish mutually beneficial working relationships.
Networking has become more sophisticated. There are professional associations, trade shows and social media platforms where you can build a strong network and keep on the cutting edge of new trends and technology to help you work smarter. Going to an event is just the first step in the process. You also need to develop an efficient system for managing your contacts, sharing ideas and resources with other planners and building long term relationships. This is even more important for those who are new in the industry.
Here are 6 ways you can connect with other event planners in your area.
1. Join a local group or association for event planners
The old adage: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ really applies to networking for EventProfs. Networking is a vital part of the Events Industry. Many event planners attend traditional networking groups like Business Network International (BNI) or their local Chambers of Commerce. BNI chapters are available in almost every country in the world.
Other EventProfs join local chapters of international EventProfs networking groups such as the ones listed below and LinkedIn Groups:
- PicEvent, based in London, meets on a monthly basis to connect with industry colleagues and learn about new technologies.
- Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) is another leading association for event planners. They provide education, business networking and community engagement for leaders in the international meetings, convention and business events industry. PCMA has 17 Chapters with more than 6,500 members and 50,000 customers. They provide face-to-face sessions as well as online training so their reach is very wide.
- Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest global meeting and event industry association. MPI has approximately 18,500 members who attend more than 80 chapters and clubs in 22 countries. They provide innovative and relevant education and training for the events industry as well as networking opportunities.
- LinkedIn Groups provide endless opportunities to join with like-minded people in the events industry. You are spoilt for choice with 217 groups for event managers and 516 groups for event planners. The Event Planning & Event Management Group was the first group for Event Professionals and now has 290,505 members.
2. Attend Event Industry Trade Shows
Event planning trade shows take place all over the world! You may be fortunate enough to be able to attend a trade show in your own city… or you may have a great excuse to travel to a popular international venue.
Trade shows for event planners are marketed to a range of people who play a role in ‘meetings, incentive, conferences, and exhibitions’ – often referred to as ‘MICE’ professionals. This industry is also known as the ‘meetings, incentive travel, and special events’ industry, or just the ‘meetings industry’.
Trade Shows offer educational seminars and leadership workshops with certificates on completion that are often recognized internationally. There are great networking opportunities for event planners to meet other industry professionals such as caterers, florists, photographers, graphic designers and other vendors to see what’s hot for the upcoming season.
At a Trade Show, you also get the opportunity to build relationships with members of the press and benefit from the publicity generated.
Following is a list of prestigious Trade Shows for EventProfs:
- MPI World Education Congress – Meeting Professionals International (MPI) runs three major events each year in North America : The first is the World Education Congress that includes education sessions focused on business development and training. The other programs have a more international focus – the Professional Education Conference-North America and the Professional Education Conference-Europe.
- International Confex – Based in London, Confex is the premier exhibition for events activities in the UK and is the place buyers come to source new venues and services. Confex is the largest ‘MICE’ oriented trade show in the UK, attracting leading providers of venues, destinations and event support services both in the UK and internationally.
- Idea Factory – Idea Factory is a trade show for event planners that focuses on seminars and workshops, catering and social events for networking. It is attended by approximately 2,500 international and local event professionals each year.
- Catering Executives Conference – The National Association of Catering Executives hosts an annual Educational Conference for on-premise caterers, off-premise caterers, event planners and industry vendors/suppliers. Although caterers are the primary target for this event, event planners will learn about new trends and ideas that may be incorporated into their programs. Attendees will gain valuable insight into the planning and execution of food and beverages in an environment that includes networking, education and professional development.
- IncentiveWorks Meetings and Events Show – IncentiveWorks is a Canadian meetings and events show that is open to anyone in the event planning industry. The event offers a display of products and services for planners to consider, as well as social opportunities for networking.
- IMEX America – One of the most well known ‘meetings industry’ trade shows is the International Media Educators Exchange Group’s World Exhibition for Incentive, Travel, Meetings, and Events. This is hosted in the US for North Americans and also in Frankfurt for European planners. Various opportunities are offered for planners to see vendor showcases, go to leadership workshops and educational workshops.
- EIBTM – The Global Meetings and Incentive Exhibition is the leading exhibition for the conference, incentives, events, business travel and meetings industry based in Europe. The program includes an exhibition floor, networking opportunities and professional education. More than 2,700 international suppliers from 95 countries attend EIBTM.
- Event Solutions Catersource Conference and Tradeshow – The Event Solutions Catersource Conference and Tradeshow, in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a well known show targeted at event planners. The show holds seminars, workshops, networking social events, and even a catering symposium. Participants can also attend the Event Solutions Spotlight Awards, which honor some of the best people and places in the events industry.
3. Attend events organized by other planners
Early in your career, this is the best way to learn the ropes and meet other event planners in your city. Take note of shared ideas and advice during the event for future reference. Getting to know your fellow event planners has innumerable benefits. You can get some tips on venues, caterers, suppliers and refer clients to them when you are fully booked.
Here are four ways to find out what’s on and where it is:
- LinkedIn has numerous groups of event professionals. Check out the groups that match your needs.
- Lanyrd.com is a ‘social conference directory which is useful for finding nearby conferences and events. You can browse conferences by topics.
- Eventbrite is another directory that showcases events, parties and conferences
4. Organize your own event
Use the directories listed above to promote your event. Following are a few tips to make your event a success:
- Promote on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn – Social media is the best way to bring in new customers through targeted ads. Choose the platforms that share your target audience.
- Create Engaging Content for Email Marketing and Event Pages with eye-catching images and content that addresses the needs of the reader.
- Make it easy to network with other attendees and engage with them with an event app such as Whova.
Here’s an article that explains how to create a winning social media campaign for your event.
5. Join EventProfs groups on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook
LinkedIn has quickly become the top business networking site with more than 200 million members. Finding LinkedIn is like finding a treasure chest full of business opportunities for EventProfs. For example, Event Planning & Event Management is the biggest group for event professionals with 290,498 members. Here are some compelling statistics on social media that demonstrate how important it is for your events business: These stats will change your ring tone to Ka-Ching! Ka-Ching
- 271 million Twitter accounts
- 300 million LinkedIn accounts
- 1.3 billion Face Book accounts
- 5 million images uploaded on Instagram every day
- 500 million Tweets posted every day
There are so many choices on social media that you need a professional guide to navigate the maze. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from the Masters? Start following a few leading EventProfs such as those listed below to keep on the cutting edge and network with other EventProfs. Check out the following leaders on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram sites.
- Julius Solaris @EventMB runs the Event Manager Blog. Follow this blog for all the latest news and tips on conference planning and event technology.
- Liz King @Lizkingevents is a must-follow event professional. She’s a keynote speaker at conferences and blogs about new technology on Techsytalk.
- Corbin Ball @Corbinball is known as ‘The godfather of event tech’. He runs the TechTalk newsletter and provides statistics, analytics and tradeshow tech news.
- Adrian Segar @Asegar is the author of best-selling book, Conferences That Work. He also specialises in non-profit events, event design and conference planning.
- William Thomson @WilliamEvents and Gallus Events keeps you up-to-date on the conference scene and upcoming conferences relevant to EventProfs.
6. Make networking more efficient with cutting edge technology
In a 2015 Benchmark Study, researchers were able to quantify how event marketers and producers are using—and will use—mobile apps in the future. The report provides an in-depth look at why 3 out of 4 planners are using apps at their events today. Here are 3 of the key findings:
- Planners are realizing instant cost savings with mobile apps – as much as 84% savings on printing alone.
- Mobile app budgets are growing – the average increase is 21% in 2015.
- 88% of planners say that by 2016 apps will be critical to their attendees’ event experiences.
There are seven billion people in the world. About four billion own a smartphone, while only 3.5 billion own a toothbrush! You can safely assume that all EventProfs own a smartphone and a toothbrush. You can also assume that they will want to use apps on their smartphones and tablets to make event planning more efficient and resolve many of the challenges they currently face, such as:
- How to speed up registrations and ticketing
- How to know the profiles of attendees so you can select who you want to meet
- How to send private messages to other attendees to schedule meetings
- How to choose the sessions you wish to attend and compile your own schedule
- How to find your way around the venue efficiently
- How to store business cards and notes for networking through your phone
- How to build networking relationships before, during and after the event
- How to integrate with social media during the event
- How to participate in polls and surveys during the event
Here are a few top apps that overcome some (or all) of the identified problems above and make your event professional and memorable.
Networking is a critical component of the EventProfs industry. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to networking. Traditional face-to-face networking still has a firm place for #EventProfs, but as the industry becomes more global, we are looking to technology to bring like-minded professionals together to share resources and ideas, while building strong relationships with colleagues, suppliers and vendors. Mobile apps are already an essential tool for speakers, organizers, suppliers and attendees at events around the world. Leading EventProfs predict this trend will continue to grow in the years to come.
What’s your experience with traditional and social media networking? Would an app help you to network more efficiently and build long lasting relationships?