Events = Bottom-line Boosting ... or Not!

I recently attended a networking function last evening hosted by a service firm here. I was excited to attend because I do a lot of work with firms of this type and haven't yet done any work with this particular firm. For those of you who are planning your holiday parties and events, this post is especially for you!

The firm's idea to do an art show and get lots of people into their offices was, quite frankly, brilliant. The execution of their idea was poor at best. I'll dissect my observation and experience for your amusement and reading pleasure, and offer notes on what you can do in your future events to make them successful.

Let's start with the good stuff:
  • They invited everyone under the sun and lots of people showed up. As someone networking here for several year, I saw a few familiar faces and lots of new faces. A great sign.
  • There was a "reason" for the event: they hosted several artists and their artwork. There was a lot of artwork, it was well-placed and the prices were palatable. This made for conversation, or at least conversation starters.
  • They had a bartender serving a few drinks in the lobby and hors d'oeuvres (pupus for my friends in Hawaii) in a conference room at the other end of their offices. A great strategy to get folks moving around to see all they had to offer. Even the conference rooms were cleared out and artwork was displayed.
What could have been better:
  • I attended the event with a friend. We met NO-ONE from the firm we were visiting. No-one acknowledged our presence and we weren't greeted in any way. Although we had name tags, no-one took our business cards or other contact info.
    Make it better: Have a team of folks at the front door to greet folks as they arrive, get their business cards and ask what they know about the firm, what they'd like to know, and provide an overview of the firm's services, including a brief tour.
  • There was a very loud musical trio playing in the lobby, which was not conducive for conversation.
    Make it better: A classical music trio would be nice to provide ambiance yet keep the sound level in check (or just music playing would be fine).
  • Have a next event scheduled guests can sign up for (such as a seminar like "10 Tax Mistakes Business Owners Make") or a "take-away" item such a packet of information or simply a brochure. It provides a place to start with post-event follow-up.
  • Although there were lots of people, a good 80% of the crowd seemed to be, as my colleague pointed out, "lower-level professionals." Not those who could afford my services, her services, or quite frankly, the services of the firm we were visiting.
    Make it better: Invite the best people, give them enough notice to attend, and have senior-level professionals at the firm reaching out to make sure they attend.
  • They were supporting a charity, but the only way we knew that was by going into one of the aforementioned conference rooms and seeing brochures lying on the table.
    Make it better: Have someone (or several people) representing the charity there to answer questions. Have someone from the firm there to talk about why they are supporting this particular charity, why you should to and how you can, starting right now.
I spent a month excited to attend the event, and thirty minutes actually in attendance. (If we hadn't run into people we knew, our stay would have been MUCH shorter.) I didn't see new people I wanted to meet and left a little bummed I had gone out of my way to get there after a long work day.

Getting clear about who you want to come, why and what you want for all of your efforts is the first step to a successful event. Having an event just for the sake of having an event without clear goals and objectives will mean lots of man hours and dollars spent without a clear return on that investment. Turn your brilliant ideas into revenue-generating events and I will look forward to seeing you there!

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