It’s summertime, which means it’s event season! Everywhere across the United States people are planning their weddings, throwing BBQs, going to live shows, and most importantly for business thought leaders like yourself, hosting networking events. There’s something about spring and summertime that warms people up (yes, pun intended) and makes us a little more social. But how does one get from an event idea to conception. And then how do you execute!?
Your teachers have said it since elementary school – planning. With so many moving parts to an event, planning as early as possible can be the best way to avoid mistakes that could cost you a connection or even worse, your reputation. So, here’s an event checklist that should cover everything you need, primarily for business events.
Note: If you have an event coming up in the next few months and haven’t started planning, it’s an uphill battle, but for you over performing procrastinators out there, you can get a lot of your print and copy services done on the same day at Office Depot.
6+ Months Out – Big Picture and Budgeting
For most business events, you can expect to include the following:
- Venue [ ]
- Food and drink [ ]
- Speakers and entertainment [ ]
- Marketing and promotion [ ]
Plan your budget and get multiple estimates to get a good idea of a reasonable budget [ ]
Set goals and objectives for the event [ ]
- What are you, your attendees and your sponsors getting out of the event?
Decide on a theme or concept [ ]
Pinpoint your target audience [ ]
- Look at your goals as these should indicate what kind of audience you want at your event.
Choose your event type, which includes but isn’t limited to: [ ]
- Trade Show
- Networking Event
- Product Launch/Activation
- Award Ceremony
4-6 Months Out – The Details
Choose your venue (ideally after walking through a few different locations) [ ]
- Be sure your venue can accommodate your activities (i.e.; meal room, main event room and possibly a social room for networking.
Select a date and time – dependent on venue availability [ ]
- Make sure there are no competing events on the same day.
- Make sure your sponsors, attendees and staff are available that day.
Create a marketing plan [ ]
- If marketing isn’t your gig, there are business services that can efficiently get the word out for your event, so you can focus on the event itself.
Find and sign your sponsors [ ]
- Having sponsors could help with cross-promotion as well as take some of the cost out of your own pocket.
Book your Keynote, guest speakers, and MC if you have one [ ]
Hire vendors for future promotion/creative assets [ ]
Delegate tasks and create a committee of people you trust to help plan the event [ ]
2-4 Months Out – Hype It Up!
With logistics pretty much done, now’s the time to get everyone to notice. Promote on your social media and apps that reach your target audience [ ]
*Note: Do not use one image/teaser/video for all platforms. Have fun with it and mix it up!
Send a press release before/after your event [ ]
Meet with third party vendors [ ]
- Make sure everyone is on the same page come event time.
Approve designs of signage/print material [ ]
- Make sure your branding is cohesive across the event.
- Badges/name tags
- Registration (if not online)
- Collect high-resolution marketing materials from your speakers and sponsors.
Decide on and order additional promotional items [ ]
- Put your brand on an everyday item and remind them what they learned and loved at your event!
- This would be great for sponsors to participate in.
One Week Out – Is Your Head Spinning Yet? Not with This Checklist!
Time to print! [ ]
- Print out your signs, programs, brochures and banners. Office Depot does same-day printing to ensure you get it right and on time.
- Make sure you have enough signs to clearly show your attendees where they need to go next.
- Print name tags/badges for attendees.
Market hard in final week [ ]
- Don’t spam your potential attendees, but you will need to be front of mind for those who’ve been on the fence for the last 6 months.
- You can get creative with snackable 10-second videos leading up to the event or have your speakers help promote to their audience.
Staff Check [ ]
- You can have a final meeting with the entire staff helping with the event. Make it fun and team-oriented.
Last Day – Setup
Set up any materials needed for your event [ ]
- Put up decorations.
- Assemble promotion items (goody bags).
- Make sure everything is in place (A/V, décor, food, staff, etc.).
Have speakers run through the script [ ]
- Practice makes them better and more comfortable and you’ll have a good idea how long presentations will run.
Confirm final number of attendees and send list to your sponsors [ ]
You can have the greatest business event of the year but without follow-up those connections can be forgotten as fast as they were made.
Keep your momentum going with post-event publicity [ ]
- Remember that videographer and photographer you hired?
Send thank you notes [ ]
- When you were a kid, did you have to write thank you notes for your friends who came to your birthday party? I did and I hated it, but now it all makes sense!
- Show your appreciation for the success of the event to attendees, sponsors and anyone else who played a role. They may want to work with you again.
Get feedback [ ]
- Even though your event was a success, there were probably some areas that either felt needless or overwhelming. You can find out from your attendees what was great and was not so great to improve on your next business event.
Extra Points for Your Networking Event
- Plan your event with industry culture in mind.
- Structure your event to encourage socializing.