how to host a networking party

For those of you who are wedding professionals and/or own a small business, hosting a successful business networking event where people have an opportunity to meet you, meet your people and learn more about your products and services, is one of the best business building tools you can employ to build and maintain your relationships face-to-face.

Angie Capri Photography recently celebrated her 2nd anniversary as a business and along with team of amazing wedding pros and event vendors, threw herself one epic networking party to celebrate! Today, they’re going to give you all of their best tips detailing how to host an effective, engaging and entertaining business networking event!

How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/

As a host of an awesome business networking event you are:

– Taking charge of meeting new people
– Expanding your own network
– Establishing yourself as a connector
– Creating a reason for people to want to know you
– Strengthening your own relationships because you will genuinely be helping other people

Getting started:

– Create a detailed list of how you plan to create buzz and excitement leading up to the event, during the event and after the event.
– Make sure that you are creative, unique and innovative all along the planning process in order to intrigue and attract your target clients and colleagues who you’d like to partner with.
– You’ll need to be able to promote your event in a way that tells the world it’s going to be fun and will benefit guests in a variety of ways.
– Make sure to create a compelling and detailed event description that can be shared in these places for maximum exposure:

* Eventbrite (where guests can RSVP)
* Meetup.com
* PR Log (write an exciting press release)
* Your own blog which you will continue pointing guests to while promoting your event across social media sites like: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram
* Begin promoting your event a minimum of 8 weeks ahead of time
* Send out reminders every 1-2 weeks leading up to the big day

– Angie Capri Photography

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Event Logistics:

Professional photography: Obviously, this one’s close to my heart. Let’s be sure to hire a professional event photographer to document your special event to guarantee:

– Quality and consistency of compelling images that you will strategically use to promote your small business and your highly successful business networking event over and over again
– Everything about the event is documented:

* The beautiful details you and your team have spent hours (and days) agonizing over to get just right
* The fabulous guests who have arrived dressed in their best
* The host schmoozing, connecting and interacting with their guests
* The excitement, the fun, the emotion!!
* How else would you be able to successfully capture and tell this story? People will need to see it to believe it (especially in this day and age driving by visuals and lots of photos)!

Location:

– If you have a business location where you can host the event this is perfect and you’ll avoid additional rental fees. Plus, it provides your guests with a more intimate understanding of you and what your business is all about.

– If you need to rent a location, be sure to do your research ahead of time guaranteeing you select the right location that acts as an authentic extension of your business for consistency in branding.

On a budget:

Invite your favorite local colleagues for an opportunity to showcase their own small businesses and expertise in exchange for official sponsorship, business promotion, and professional photography they can continue to use for their own business marketing and promotion.

– Angie Capri Photography

Cotton candy | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Flower adorned frame | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Colorful bridal bouquet | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ how to host a networking party | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/

Setting the mood:

– Comfort and ambiance: Don’t forget to have enough seating and tables so everyone’s comfortable throughout the event. Set the mood, energy and overall experience by selecting the proper background music, natural or artificial lighting to create the right ambiance true to your brand and your people.

– What to wear: Set expectations ahead of time including appropriate attire that’s business professional (you’d be surprised how many people appreciate the extra direction) and having this consistency throughout your event makes people feel more comfortable and feel like they belong as they begin strolling in, ready to dress to impress. (Not to mention everyone will look fabulous in your professional event photos!)

– Business cards:

* Be sure to remind event guests and sponsors to bring loads of business cards in order to stay in touch with all of their new connections (and you better have a stack as well).

* You can set up a networking table and invite all of your guests to leave their information and swap with others there.

– Greetings: Make sure you designate a “people person” to be in charge of greeting guests as soon as they arrive (and not a moment later) to assist with signing in, creating nametags and signing a model release. Don’t forget to greet as many guests as possible yourself (the host), and introduce people who’d make a great connection guaranteeing everyone feels welcome and included.

– Refreshments: Please, please don’t forget about simple finger foods, light appetizers and water so guests stay hydrated and are not starving in search of food instead of connecting and networking. This is a huge issue I continue to see networking event hosts run into and it’s a super simple fix that will either keep guests coming back for more or wanting to run away. If you’re able to go above and beyond this refreshment minimum, you will score even more impressive points with your community!

– Give them a takeaway: Provide your guests with an awesome thank you gift representative of your company and branded with your company logo:

* Swag bags: We personally love a goody bag or swag bag that’s so awesome your guests will actually want to use it everywhere they go (rather than tossing it in back of the closet atop all of the other sad boring bags they’ve gotten at everyone else’s events). Stuff it with your business info, sponsors’ info, samples, special offers and treats that smell and taste good (chocolate’s a great place to start!)

* Raffles: Another great idea is providing all of the guests with a ticket when they sign in and host a raffle at the end of the event. Ask your sponsors to donate items to the raffle for another opportunity to promote their own businesses!

* Follow up: Send a follow-up thank you announcement including highlight photos (from your amazing professional event photographer) to stay in touch with guests after the event, to promote your event and future events.

– Angie Capri Photography

How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Drink station | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Pink peony | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Chic bridal updo | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Bridal portrait | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/

“We were so excited to be a part of Angie Capri’s two-year anniversary party and networking event. We knew from the start that we wanted to do something as fun as Angie is herself and maintain the rustic and eclectic feel of her industrial studio space that she had already transformed.

We started with some awesome furniture from Angie’s own collection, including DIY reclaimed wood tables sourced from pallets and a collection of vibrant vintage chairs. We combined these pieces with additional furniture sourced from Pleasanton Rentals.

The rustic vibe ran throughout the floral arrangements and bouquets as well where we choose to showcase them using a variety of mason jars, vintage bottles and a variety of patterned ribbon. Coral gem peonies and garden roses were complimented by ranunculus, dahlias, and thistle, as well as seasonal fillers.

As guests arrived they were greeted by A Quaint Soiree who hand wrote guests’ names on name tags. This small detail makes a huge impact on the way guests begin their evening at your event because they’ve already experience a personal touch making them feel welcome from the very start.

Next, our guests were greeted by a gorgeous beverage station; a variety of infused waters (lemon, strawberry and cucumber) and mason jar glasses set atop a vintage dresser. These infused waters are super easy to make and they create a beautiful and refreshing design element that everyone enjoyed on that hot summer afternoon.

We created a unique art installation by hanging a collection of vintage frames from two trees that formed another focal point and fun photo-op for our guests. These sorts of creative backdrops are such a great idea because you want to give guests at your networking event as many opportunities as possible to take photos that they’re excited to share on social media, which helps promote your event and show the world how much fun everyone is having!

We utilized the indoor studio space for food and desserts where guests could relax, network and explore Angie’s fine art albums and wall art. This is also the location where we choose to showcase the rusty old mattress spring Angie found on the side of the road which she then partnered with 3 Stage Lighting to create a super exciting and unique fine art installment highlighting this trash to treasure find with gorgeous Edison lights.” – Angie Capri Photography, Kelly Elissa Events and Enchantment Floral

Cotton candy wedding | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/

“Break the ice with lighting! An eye-catching lighting display doesn’t just provide light for your event space, but also acts as a conversation catalyst for your guests looking to break the ice to begin networking. Edison bulbs are a great element to add to your networking event with their unique filament patterns and nostalgic feel. Color Tip: pair your Edison display with a cool tone accent to balance out the warm tones emitted from the bulbs.” – 3 Stage Lighting

How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Cotton candy station | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Pink ranunculus bridal bouquet | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ Red and white desserts | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/ How to host a networking event | Sweetness and Light Photography | see more on: http://burnettsboards.com/2015/09/host-networking-party/

“We are so happy to continue to grow and evolve along this wonderful journey as small business owners together, growing our awesome and super supportive communities of talented and creative wedding and boudoir professionals and those clients who allow us to follow our dreams as entrepreneurs, artists and activists!

Check out those gorgeous florals that I got to take home and continue enjoying all week looooong, gazing over at them every second of the day… (I’m not joking) And my boho flower crown!?! (I never wanted to take it off!)

That beautiful signage and calligraphy (with my personal motto “be happy”) sprinkled everywhere, and our super-duper adorable new tote bags – the ladies just couldn’t get enough of and I’m totally obsessed with.

That gorgeous up-lighting, plus our super rad art installation combining the rusty old mattress spring (found on the side of the road – oh yeah) and Edison light bulbs, completely transforming the mood and ambiance of our studio.

Then came those dangerous (prepare yourself) salted ganache toffee maroons, raspberry rose lychee panna cotta dessert cups, orange blossom dark chocolates, lemon flower white chocolates, peach and strawberry lemonade cotton candy. Are you serious? Yes, why yes I am. (It was very challenging to keep my mitts off of them… and I’d say the same goes for everyone else).

Our beautiful brides, those gorgeous dresses designed by Rivini and Lian Carlo from Kinsley James Couture Bridal, and the brilliant bouquets are totally smokin’ hot set against our rustic industrial setting… I love watching such an eclectic mixture of design elements all come together in a beautiful cohesive work of art just like this!!” – Angie Capri Photography

See more features from Angie Capri Photography here.

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THE TEAM: Second Anniversary Party Celebration for Angie Capri Photography // Event Photography: Sweetness and Light Photography // Event Coordination: Kelly Elissa Events // Floral Design: Enrichment Floral // Event Rentals: Pleasanton Rentals // HMUA: The Makeup Movement // Bridal Gown: Kinsley James Couture // Event Lighting: 3 Stage Lighting // Desserts: Fleur de Farine // Cotton Candy: Sweet Puff Candy // Chocolates: Something Sweet Chocolates // Event Signage & Calligraphy: A Quaint Soiree // Custom Garters: La Gartier.

About Sara Burnett

Editor of Burnett's Boards, which she founded to showcase global creativity in the wedding industry. Sara currently lives out of a suitcase while island hopping the Caribbean and beyond. Learn More // Follow on Instagram.