8 Keys to Successful Networking Events

Today’s decision-makers are bombarded with emails and text ads from local MSPs and global vendors everywhere they turn. Tech companies looking to grow their business can’t rely on digital marketing alone. So how do you generate quality leads in a crowded marketplace? One of the most cost-effective ways to garner new leads is with Lunch and Learns, or networking events.

1. Cast a wide net.

  • Market your event to your clients. Your biggest fans will most likely be an easy sell. (They may even volunteer to give you a nice testimonial at the event.) Networking with clients is a smart retention move. You can reinforce the value of your relationship and position yourself for a cross-sell/up-sell opportunity at the same time.
  • It’s the prospects, out there on the fence, who you need to work to attract. More on that later.
  • Target all levels of leadership. You never know where you might find your next lead.

“Within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.”  –Forbes.com

2. Go big, or go home.

When it comes to planning your next event, think “big picture.” Every last detail (the venue, the food, the email invite) sends a message. The choices you make communicate to your customers and your prospects what you think of your business and what you think of them. Everything, from your initial introduction to your marketing collateral, should be professional and on brand. Lastly, send your guests home with high-value swag. A Yeti mug, with your company logo, will stand the test of time and earn a coveted space on someone’s desk.

The choices you make communicate to your customers and your prospects what you think of your business and what you think of them.

3. Choose an inclusive, high-value venue.

The right venue can entice the most challenging of leads. As mentioned earlier, your fan base will most likely accept your invitation with little hesitation. You’ll need to work harder to lure in the others. Imagine a local professional in the market for IT support services. He may not agree to sit down with you for an hour to listen to your sales pitch. But, he might be tempted to join your event at a Major League baseball game or a posh steakhouse. (Note: If you’re feeling a little sticker shock, consider this: Networking is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business.) And, if you’re looking to cut costs, think about working with a vendor to support your event.

If you’re looking to cut costs, think about working with a vendor to support your event.

4. Hosting virtual events

There will be times when being physically together isn’t possible. Bad weather and simple geography can leave you with no other option but a virtual event. Online events present their own set of challenges, but when done well, they can be successful.

  • Make it easy. Be sure to use a user-friendly, well-known business communication platform like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Stay away from products not universally known. You want to make the entire experience easy and stress-free. As with any marketing effort, limit every potential obstacle you can.
  • Class it up. Just because you can’t meet at a high-end restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t send participants an electronic gift card. Once people enter your event, email them an Uber Eats or DoorDash gift card so your guests can order food. Everyone can enjoy a nice lunch delivered to their office around the same time.
  • Don’t multi-task. Don’t make the mistake of trying to host a hybrid onsite and online event. Choose one or the other, so you can devote your undivided attention to your guests.

Networking is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business.

5. How, and when, to effectively measure ROI

Calculating the ROI is fairly straightforward – revenue compared to cost. In this instance, the primary goal of your event is to generate leads. That’s our measurable objective.

Take the total cost of your event and divide by the number of leads generated. That gives you your total cost per lead. Compare that number to your ROI on other marketing efforts. (Networking events prove to be cost effective tools to generate leads in comparison to other marketing efforts.) That’s welcome news when the average lead in the IT space could cost you over $1k. And finally, networking is a long-term investment. Give your event time to work. Wait 90 days before you measure your progress.

Networking is a long-term investment. Give your event time to work. Wait 90 days before you measure your progress.

6. Set the right agenda.

  • Do give a high-level overview of all the products and services you offer. Even if your event is centered around VoIP, don’t neglect to mention you offer cloud services. You never know who is listening and what they may need now or sometime in the near future.
  • Don’t make this about a sales pitch. Yes. Your event should have a sales component, but your primary objective here isn’t to sell. The time to sell will come later. If you’re sharing the event with a vendor, prep them before time on your preferred tone and message.
  • Do allow for breathing room. Realize people will converse and conversations will evolve. Be sure to incorporate free time in the first few minutes for people to arrive and make introductions.
  • Don’t get too technical. Remember, among your guests may be an engineer. But don’t forget the business people who aren’t tech-savvy. Speak to business value so your message resonates with everyone in the room.

The average lead in the IT space averages about $1k.

 7. Don’t forget about marketing.

  • Announce your event and generate excitement through company newsletters, social media, email and telemarketing campaigns.
  • Send a thank you follow-up email.
  • Call each participant following your event. Thank guests for attending, and ask if they would like more information about your product and service offerings.

8. Keep your eyes on the prize.

  • Don’t be short-sighted. Remember, networking isn’t a sprint. It’s a long-term investment.
  • Do make it a habit. Commit yourself to a regular cadence of events, say one per month. Regular events can not only keep your business top of mind, but they can also establish you as an industry thought leader.
  • Don’t lose sight of your objective. Your goal with this event is to produce a lead. Leave the details and the hard sell for later.

Interested in how to generate quality leads? Marketopia can help.

If you have a tech company to grow, Marketopia has the marketing and lead gen tools to make it happen. We’re in the business of more leads, more sales and more profit for everyone in the IT channel. So, whether you’re looking for support for your TSP marketing, channel marketing or lead generation for IT industry customers and partners, Marketopia is here to help.

  • Tools to run your own event
  • Professional collateral
  • IT industry specific
  • Sales and marketing focused

Interested in how to generate quality leads? Contact us today, and let’s get started

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