Business events: just be cool

As both a publisher and a business owner, I’ve been the schmoozer, and the schmoozed.

And it really is apples and oranges when it comes to a great business event. Perhaps it’s an occasion to drum up some new business. Maybe you’ve got a new product or feature that you’d like to showcase.

Whatever the reason behind the event, there is one thing that cast a pall over proceedings in at least 50 per cent of functions I’ve been to in my career: the air is thick with desperation.

You know the type. There’s the overzealous PR person who pounces on unwitting attendees the second they walk in the door. The room is so laden with paraphernalia it’s like they’re filming a TV advertisement. Staff are smiling from ear to ear, and everybody is just that little bit too excited for it to seem genuine.

Before you write me off as a scrooge, just put yourself in the shoes of the attendee.

It’s a weekday, so no matter what time of the day your event is being held, they’ve either just come from work, or they’ll be heading back there after a quick sticky beak, a mini quiche and a Crownie.

This person is on a tight timeframe, and they can’t spare hours waiting for purpose of the event to become apparent.

And herein lies the rub. You’ve got to get to the (succinct) point quickly, have kits of info ready to go for those who want to take it with them, and then… nothing. That’s right – you’ve had your moment with your captive audience. It then becomes time for the guests to enjoy the reason they came to the event – to talk freely, ask questions, have a good time, and leave the event with a positive impression – both socially, and of the business who hosted it

Not convinced? Here’s my hit list of tips:

  • Be authentic. People can smell desperation a mile away, and that’s precisely how far they’ll run. Use the time to build relationships with your guests, and keep in touch with those who were genuinely interested in the brand.
  • It’s a prerequisite that the event will be ‘nice’ – but is it unique? Consider how many functions a typical businessperson goes to in a year. You’ve got to make yours stand out in the right way. That may mean a left-of-centre venue, a theme, or even a guest experience.
  • Set a time frame. It’s not the 1980s. People are held closely accountable to their day by their phones. If it’s your dream to host a full day event, keep in mind you may be significantly limiting your audience.
  • Technology has revolutionised the way we do business, but the fundamental relationships have not changed. When guests feel positive about the people they met and the experience they had long after the event is over, you know it has been a success.

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About the Author:

Colin Porter is the publisher of Dynamic Business and the founder and MD of credit reporting bureau, CreditorWatch. He has over 20 years experience as a business owner, specialising in general small/medium business issues, cashflow, credit management and online business. Follow CreditorWatch on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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