Mixin’ and Minglin’ – How To Plan A Successful Networking Event

By: Erin Santy, @esanty

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Last Thursday, we hosted about 75 Bay Area PR pros at PRSA’s monthly mixer in San Francisco at The Office, Churchill’s private bar – big thanks to all who came out to mix and mingle with us! In putting together the event, we were struck by how much the key considerations aligned with what we take into account when planning media or consumer events for clients. Ultimately, there are certain factors that contribute to making an event of any type successful and memorable, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to pull back the curtain a bit and share some inside scoop.

  • It’s All About The Vibe
    • The first step in planning an event is to determine what kind of vibe you’re going for and make sure every subsequent selection falls in line with that. For us, we’re not stuffy hotel ballroom people. We wanted folks to walk away with a sense of what our culture is like – so we picked a place we’d want to hang at if we were doing a SHIFT happy hour. It was a private space with the right mix of standing and seating options and a cozy, hipster feel. The SHIFT team even brought in some extra fun with a shuffleboard table!
  • Location, Location, Location
    • Is your venue centrally located? Nothing kills your turnout more than picking a spot that’s too far off the beaten path. If you want to break outside the neighborhood norm (as we did here – branching beyond the FiDi to shake it up a bit), be sure to pick a spot that’s easy to get to via public transportation and has abundant parking.
  • Standing Out From The Crowd
    • What are you doing to make your event unique and memorable? That’s a huge factor in both your turnout, as well as turnout for future events (if your event doesn’t make an impression, can you expect people to show up for the next one?). For our event, we picked a spot with killer cocktails and hosted an open bar along with Southern-theme treats to balance out the booze. We also did a surprise raffle and gave away a few goodie bags stuffed with local treats (yes, us SHIFTers were jealous that we weren’t eligible to win J)
  • Plan A Flexible Budget
    • Any time you do an event with charges based on consumption (like an open bar), you have to head into it with some budget flexibility to account for overages – nothing ends a party on a lower note than the bar tab running out! Create a plan in advance with your onsite venue event manager to get alerts as you near your budget cap so you can make smart choices about where to best utilize your cushion budget

Keep these golden rules in mind next time you dive into planning an event for any type of crowd to up your game and increase your event’s success factor!

 


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