Organising a Business Networking Event
PMO Flashmobber Lindsay Scott recently held a business networking event at 20 Bedford Way. In our latest blog, she writes about her experience and provides insight into organising a business networking event.
PMO Networking Event
With the rise of Meetup and Eventbrite, London has seen an explosion of gatherings and get-togethers enabling people to meet others that have something in common with them. From marketing professionals, business start-up entrepreneurs, extreme programmers, craft sessions and book clubs – there is something for everyone, every single night of the week.
I started a business networking group for people working within programme management offices (PMO) – it’s a position found within project management departments across most businesses today. The whole idea was to bring people together in an environment where they could meet, network, help each other out and perhaps learn a few new things along the way.
I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learnt along the way in the hope that if you’re inspired to set up your own group and events these pointers will help you get started.
– Make sure you understand the objective of doing it and be prepared for that to change as you host more and more events. The people who turn up each time will help you shape and refine it based on what THEY want to get out of it too.
– Plan ahead – people always like to have future meeting dates in their diary, plus it helps build loyalty.
– Research and find the right venues – 20 Bedford Way was ideal for one of our networking meetings where we wanted to host a presenter and a Q&A session. It would never have worked in a pub!
– Prepare to be a REAL host – your job is to make sure people are comfortable, so learn to connect people together, make introductions, and keep watching for anyone standing alone.
– Know when to facilitate and when to hold back. Sometimes an informal networking group is just about people chatting to each other and they’re perfectly fine to get on and do just that. Sometimes it helps to provide prompts in the form of questions to ask, just to get the conversation going at the beginning of the evening.
– Mix it up, get creative people have been working all day; they’re ready to get involved in something new. We’ve tried a stand-up routine, a debating society and a world café.
– Think about the follow up – is there a way to share some of the things that came out of the meetings? We use a website to share materials; it’s also used for any members who want to share their own views in blog form. It’s also a great way to entice new people to come along.
– Decide what to charge – we started off as a free event but it meant it was a nightmare coordinating numbers. People are quick to book a free event and even quicker not to turn up. In the end, we charge just £5 which works perfectly.
We recently used 20 Bedford Way for our Agile PMO event. It was a perfect networking venue for us – great, easy to reach location. It’s open in the evening which meant there was someone on the front desk to direct people to the room (believe me, this is not common when using venues “out of hours”). The room, set up in cabaret style, was perfect for people to chat before the presentation. The facilities, all included, meant it was just a memory stick, plug and play, easy! We always end up in the pub after these sessions and of course we had no problems finding one nearby which meant the networking carried on over a pint.
To find out more about our group – PMO Flashmob
Main image collinedpierre via Flickr.