Good Practice guide: Networking events

Networking Events: Good practice guide

Networking events can be incredibly valuable for your members; helping them to build professional relationships, expanding their professional circles and establishing meaningful connections with like-minded peers, potential clients, mentors, and collaborators.

Organising a networking event for your local institute also ensures you create further visibility locally, giving you a platform to showcase your institute’s membership proposition, and possibly gaining invaluable feedback directly from your members.

If you require any additional information or advice on running a networking event for your members, then please contact your Regional Membership Manager.

Types of networking events – advice for the organiser:

Speed Networking: Set up structured networking sessions where attendees rotate and have brief, timed conversations with each other. This format helps participants meet many people in a short amount of time.

Mentor / Mentee Sessions: Pair experienced professionals with those seeking mentorship or career advice for short, one-on-one sessions. This allows mentees to gain insights and guidance from seasoned professionals. This relationship can also be reversed with the mentee teaching / advising the mentor.

Interactive Workshops: Offer workshops or interactive sessions focused on specific skills or topics related to our profession. This hands-on approach encourages collaboration and learning.

Networking Games: Incorporate games or activities that encourage interaction among attendees. For example, you could organize icebreaker games, trivia contests, or team-building challenges.

Roundtable Discussions: Facilitate small group discussions on relevant industry topics. This format allows for more intimate conversations and the exchange of ideas among peers.

Virtual Networking Events: In today's digital age, virtual networking events can be just as effective as in-person ones. Utilise platforms like Zoom or TEAMS to host webinars, panel discussions, or virtual versions of the ideas highlighted above.

Less formal Networking: Sometimes a simple ‘Meet the Council’ type event can be very effective to bring members together – held at a bar or pub, with the opportunity to ‘drop-in’ and chat with peers. There may be a brief talk about the institute’s activities - and please ensure you are responsible with the provision and consumption of alcohol – but it’s otherwise an informal way to promote the institute.

Before the event – advice for organiser:

Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve from the event. Whether it's ensuring your members meet new people, helping them finding learning opportunities, or gathering industry insights, having clear goals will help your institute guide interactions and ensure your networking event is a success.

Communicate: Ensure you promote your event in good time, outlining the benefits and objectives of attending the event.

Research attendees: If possible, obtain and share a list of attendees beforehand. By researching key individuals or companies that are attending could help you tailor conversations and broker relationships that will be beneficial for delegates.

Prep your delegates: Ensure you tell your delegates to bring a sufficient supply of business cards with them to the event. This makes it easier for them to swap contact details and connect after the event. Please see below for information you could possibly include in any confirmation emails to ensure your members get the best out of your networking event.

During the event – advice for delegates:

Arrive early: Arriving early gives you the opportunity to familiarise yourself with the venue, scope out key individuals, and initiate conversations before the crowd builds up.

Engage actively: Approach people in a friendly manner and maintain eye contact. Be genuinely interested in what others have to say and actively listen to their stories and experiences.

Ask open-ended questions: Encourage meaningful conversations by asking open-ended questions that prompt others to share insights and experiences. Avoid dominating the conversation and give others the chance to speak.

Exchange contact information: Don't forget to exchange contact information with individuals you connect with. This could be through business cards, LinkedIn connections, or other networking platforms.

After the event – advice for delegates:

Follow up asap: Within a week of the event, send personalised follow-up emails or LinkedIn messages to the people you connected with. Reference something specific from your conversation to demonstrate your genuine interest.

Nurture relationships: Keep in touch with your new contacts by periodically reaching out, sharing relevant articles or insights, and looking for opportunities to collaborate or support each other.

Reflect and learn: Take some time to reflect on your networking experience. What went well? What could you improve for next time? Learning from each networking event will help you refine your approach in the future.

Stay organised: Keep track of your new connections, follow-ups, and any commitments you've made.

Central Support

Your Regional Membership Manager is your key contact - any support you require please get in touch and we can discuss how the team can help.

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