Some event planners still operate from the mindset that once the event is over, that’s it. On to the next one. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about event planning! The event is just the start to building relationships, and relationships are the lifeblood of any business. Just about anybody can get a customer once. The real value is in the second, third and fourth event they use your services for; and by not fostering these relationships you can miss out on potential sponsors or clients. Too many people walk away from networking events feeling good, but doing nothing. You need to take some decisive actions.
You’ll come across a variety of things during the event that need to be followed up on afterwards. Doing this as soon as possible will help you tie up loose ends before moving on to a new project. Having your notes and ideas still fresh in your mind will make this process easier and more effective.
The time to get this in mind is before your client’s event even begins. It’s also important to get feedback from others about the event as soon as you can. Handing out, posting or emailing feedback forms to your attendees, guest speakers and venue staff can promote open discussion about what worked and what needs tweaking for the next one. Whether attending a conference, seminar or business-club meeting, your work has just begun. It’s the follow-up after the event that can really pay dividends for you in future business for your little event business. Trade information that carries value through blog posts and emails to your list. Gain extended connections from a single contact. It’s the art of networking and it’s more important now than ever. Actually the strongest form of advertising has always been and still is word-of-mouth. Social Media only fuels this. They’re telling their friends verbally about your services, which is the most powerful advertising.
Having said that, one of the biggest event planning secrets is Pinterest. It puts you in direct contact with people searching for event ideas or party planning, and then once you’re in touch with the prospective new client, it couldn’t be easier to physically “see” the kind of thing they want. You can just take a look at the boards they’ve set up to visually plan how they’d like the event to look and feel. Now you can reach out to them and show them the kinds of things you’ve done before, even more specifically, the kind of equipment and ideas you already have, and can offer to them very cost-effectively. As for following up, here are some suggested follow-up activities.
You can find one person at each event and introduce him or her to someone else that you think they should know. Where they take it from here is up to them, but you will always remembered as the person who made the introduction.
After that, get your emails out right away. Don’t wait until the next day or the next week. Chances are you won’t get around to it, and even if you do, the recipient may not remember who the heck you are. Why not send an email to everyone you took a business card from? Even if you don’t see an immediate connection, just say “Thanks, nice to meet you.”
Contact one “mover” or “shaker” that’s going to be at the event. This could be someone to whom you can send business or someone whose clients your business can help out with events. One of the best ways to grow both a business and a network is by collaborating with others. Joint ventures can be amazingly powerful.
Always make notes of your experiences. Ideas are like slippery fish and if you don’t “spear them with a pencil,” they’ll slip away. A friend of mine keeps a special waterproof idea board in the shower, because he says that’s where his best ideas come to him.
Check your website. Make sure it’s working well and the links are active. If you met a lot of people, chances are some will check out your site. Make sure that it is up to date and a good representation of who you are.
Thank the host, if applicable. This especially applies to local events that are put together by one individual. A quick note thanking that person will go a long way.
Check your networking supplies. Replenish your stock of contact cards, note pads, resumes and other networking materials after each event in preparation for your next one. As social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter grow in popularity, we tend to forget about that “old-fashioned” approach to networking: face-to-face contact. Sure, it’s a lot easier to sit behind the computer all day and network using the point-and-click method. But hires don’t happen online; they happen after people talk on the phone or in person.
Spend some time attending networking events to widen your possibilities. To get the biggest payoff, though, don’t neglect to follow up. It’s what you do after the event that can make or break its effectiveness for your search.
Make sure to call everyone when the event is over and thank them for coming. Then look through your list of attendees and see who you should get together with after the event to further your relationship. It takes months of preparation and planning to organize an event. Don’t throw all of that work away by forgetting to follow up afterwards, because that’s the key to building lasting relationships.