Small Business

Why Hosting a Conference or Networking Event can be a Great Return on Investment

For some, the idea of hosting your own networking event or conference may be just too daunting. The associated costs in both time and money could be enough to put off even the most enthusiastic of potential conference hosts. Not to mention the stress and nerves that can come from organising your own event. However, hosting a networking event or conference has numerous benefits and can offer investment tempting ROI.

The Money Question

The potential cost of hosting a conference cannot be ignored. Not everyone will be able to host a large-scale event, nor should they. If you run a small business it could look a little strange if you started inviting people to a 3-day conference at the best London conference venue in the city with speakers attending from across the globe.

One well planned evening with some great guests and a considered itinerary can gain a small business a fantastic return on investment. Try keeping this informal and fun, one good option would be hiring a mobile cocktail bar and hosting the event at your offices. Guests can network whilst they take part in cocktail making lesson. As the host, you will also gain the benefit of being remembered as the organiser of a great night’s “work”. Probably best not to host this on a Monday though!

Whether it’s a cocktail making party or that three-day conference in the big hotel there are a number of benefits to biting the bullet and becoming host…

Be the Pioneer

One sure-fire way to get noticed by your potential clients and even cause a bit of jealousy amongst your competitors is to be the first to do something. If your industry is crying out for a networking event or conference in your area then taking the opportunity to fulfil this need could propel your company to the status of pioneers.

Being seen as pioneers or trendsetters can be very valuable. It shows you are willing to take risks at the same time as being confident in what you have to offer and your authority within your industry. This gives you the chance to shout loud and proud about what you can do. As long as it’s not arrogance, confidence is a great asset for any company

Set the Agenda and Improve as a Business

Continuous improvement drives modern businesses. Companies big and small need to be able to offer their customers ever-improving services and products, reduce waste and become more efficient. The issue of how to improve can be a challenge and a difficult question to answer. Conferences offer a fantastic opportunity to learn from other organisations.

As the host of a conference, you will be able to assert some control on the agenda, organise speakers that you will benefit from and take the opportunity make sure attendees arrive focused on what you have set out as the aims of the event.

If you really want to push your business to the next level you will be able to frame the conference to meet your needs. Maybe you have always wanted to hear a specific speaker but never been able to justify the cost of attending one of their talks. By hosting your own event you can book that speaker and get everyone else to foot the bill, as the host you will also enjoy closer access to the speakers than you may as an attendee. Or maybe you have always wanted to know how other businesses tackle a certain problem. Then why not organise breakout sessions that ask this specific question. Set the agenda of your conference and use the results to drive improvement in your own business.

Reality Check

In a similar vain to setting the agenda, networking events and conferences give all attendees and perhaps most of all the host the chance to do an honest reality check of their business, where their industry is going and what their potential clients want.

Hosting a conference gives you the chance to find out what clients and potential clients are looking for. The conference setting means it is easier to ask direct questions and get specific, targeted and measurable feedback. You will be able to act on this and adjust your offering to meet you customer’s needs.

You will also have the chance to access how related businesses and maybe even competitors are doing.  Giving you the chance to gain a bigger picture of how the industry is progressing.

Connections, Partnership and Community

Finally, the potential to grow your connections, build partnerships and increase your standing in the community are some of the most obvious benefits you can expect from hosting a conference.

There may not be a better way to get hold of a large number of potential clients contact details than by having them attend a conference you have organised. Most importantly they will already know your business name and think of you as a reliable organisation, the authority gained from hosting an event successfully cannot be underestimated.

Potential partnerships are more likely to be forged when you approach an organisation as the event organiser. The chance to engage with the wider community must also not be ignored, why not invite some small local businesses or charities that could benefit from the conference and give them a free place, a little charity can do wonders for your image, but most importantly it’s just a nice thing to do.

Whatever your budget the potential return on investment from hosting a conference or networking event is plain to see. With a bit of work, some good organisation and a well thought out agenda your event could even push your business to the next level.   

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Chloe is a recent graduate from the University of East Anglia. She enjoys writing about social media and film.

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