Casual professional meetups and similar “mini conventions” are now becoming more popular in the small business community. Social media has made it easier to reach out to others operating in the same niche, making it possible to hold these meetups even in smaller towns and cities.
Of course, there’s a bit more to hosting a successful meetup than sending a Facebook invite. Here are some tips to make your next professional meetup successful.
1.) Get participants in the right frame of mind
Getting participants to commit more to the event without directly telling them can be done by giving a small wearable item that symbolizes your event. Something like an enamel pin or a silicone rubber band bracelet can do wonders to help put them in the right mindset to listen and participate in your event. If you’re not sure how to make rubber band bracelets or enamel pins, you can easily order customized ones at affordable rates.
2.) Make the purpose of the event clear and specific
A meetup can fail if the attendees misunderstand its main purpose. At best, they might feel that they’re wasting their time by attending it. At worst, they might think you tried to pull some kind of bait-and-switch on them just to get a captive audience. In any scenario, you and your brand can lose credibility, making a followup event unlikely.
3.) Invite relevant speakers
Speakers at the event should be people whose brains your attendees may want to pick. Inviting speakers who have a following in the niche your professional community has will also help attract people to your meetup who may not want to attend otherwise.
4.) Expect dropouts and latecomers
Free events like meetups tend to have extremely high dropout rates. Because attendees have no financial commitments to meetups, it’s easy to skip them entirely. This means that you should always try to invite more people than you expect to compensate for dropout rates. Try to invite at least twice the number of people that you expect for a free event.
5.) Use venues that can accommodate more people than you plan for
Occasionally you will have more people show up than you expected. The venue and the caterers, if any, should be able to accommodate a bit more than the number of people you plan for. 10% extra capacity is usually a decent starting point but this can differ depending on how big the event’s niche is.
6.) Plan for alternative venues
Rather than just accept that you’d have to cancel an event due to a problem with the venue, you must have an alternative planned. To make the change of plans less of a problem, the alternative location should have a similar capacity and should be near your priority venue.
7.) Don’t forget the name tags!
It’s difficult to remember names at meetups, especially if everyone is just meeting for the first time. Spare everyone the embarrassment and have these available for participants to fill out and wear.
Regardless of whether it’s a formal or casual meetup, a couple of quick run-throughs beforehand should reveal some problems with the flow, which you could then readjust. Without a rehearsal, you significantly increase the chance of awkward lulls and unnecessary downtime.
9.) Ask for feedback
This is more about making your next meetups run smoothly. Presumably, you asked for email addresses before the event started or during the registration period. These emails should be used for sending event feedback forms. Make sure to keep the form “on-brand” and try to ask less than 10 questions. This will help with event recall and make it more likely that you will receive a reply.
Professional meetups are a good way to share and learn deeper insights with other people in your industry. Whether they’re casual events or more structured mini-conventions, the items in the list should help meetups run better and increase the chances of a followup.
What other professional meetup tips can you share? Tell us!