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These Personal Touches Can Take Your Networking Event Over the Top by @projectmaven

You’ve created a beautiful event. You’ve got a wonderful venue with a great DJ, the food and drinks are going to be fabulous, the decor looks wonderful, and you’ve even put together some great swag bags for your guests. Here are a few things you can do that will take your event to another level:

PERSONAL INTRODUCTIONS

It’s a networking event, right? The more your attendees connect with one another, the better. Here’s how you can help ensure that the right people meet one another. Start by doing a little advance research on your attendees. Gathering the right information from them when they register is a great start. In addition to finding out where they work and what position they hold, consider finding out what type of people they are interested in meeting. This way, you can act more as a matchmaker for your guests.

When people arrive, be prepared to introduce them to folks who may be of interest to them. Not only will this be a great icebreaker for people who might not otherwise speak to one another, but you’ll be stimulating conversations that have more of a potential to lead to actual relationships. Make sure to steer journalists to the key players and featured guests. Acquainting yourself with the needs and priorities of your guests before they arrive is vital to your ability to be a good host.

HOSPITALITY SUPPLIES

It’s always nice when planners anticipate unexpected circumstances that might hinder their guests’ ability to enjoy themselves at their event. Make sure the bathrooms are well stocked with hand lotion, breath mints, female sanitary products and air freshener. Make sure you have an emergency kit available, complete with first aid supplies, safety pins and other convenience items. Familiarize yourself with local parking facilities, bus stops and train stations, as well as area merchants and other services that might be of interest to your guests such as pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and late night restaurants and bars, for those wishing to continue the party after your event is over. Try to be prepared for as many contingencies as possible.

DIETARY SENSITIVITY

These days people have as many variations in their diet as there are types of cuisine. But some folks actually have some very serious restrictions, such as meat, gluten or nuts. You may not be able to take care of everyone’s idiosyncratic needs when planning your menu, but you can certainly make an effort to cover some of the major categories. Make sure to offer some vegetarian, nut-free and gluten free options. If possible, make sure that dishes including shellfish or nuts are clearly labeled. You’d be surprised how much people can appreciate this kind of attention to detail.

HANDWRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTES

In a society that’s becoming increasingly automated, receiving a handwritten thank you note is something of an anachronism. But in addition to being a quaint throwback to an earlier time of civility, it’s actually an opportunity to personally connect with your guests in a way that may distinguish you and your organization from others. Even if you don’t have the inclination or budget to send out multiple pieces of old-fashioned mail, consider sending some manner of individualized notes to each of your guests. A personal email is a refreshing change from the auto response generated by many registration programs and may lead to more authentic and fruitful interactions going forward.