3 months out
2. Recruit a helping hand
3. Decide on a vibe
Do you want to keep things casual, a fun chance for networking and bouncing ideas around or more structured with speakers and workshops? Would outdoor space be appropriate or do you want the event to feel more like a happy hour at a bar or a serious meeting in a hotel or conference space? Regardless, the event should center around building relationships-- about collaboration, sharing and developing thoughts, and strengthening your community.
4. Find a venue
5. Set a budget
6. Send out an e-mail to gauge interest and availability
2 months out
1. Set a date
2. Send out formal invitations
Not a graphic designer by trade, made this bad boy on PicMonkey. #amateurhour
Include the name and date of the event in the subject of the e-mail so people don't miss out. Give bloggers an idea of the "feel" of the event in the invitation. Include links to nearby hotels, parking details, and fun places around the city for those unfamiliar with the location.
EventBrite is a simple tool I discovered after the fact, which would have saved me a lot of sanity, due to a plethora of useful features:
- Create a branded event page to manage the RSVP and provide your event details.
- Keep track of the number of attendees and contact info in real time.
- Resend to guests that have not responded to the original invite. That way, you don’t need to re-enter email addresses or send too many emails to guests who are already attending.
- Add to my Calendar button.
- Share buttons. Email to friends, tweet it, share it on LinkedIn, and like it on Facebook
- Automatically schedule a brief reminder email to send to your attendees 48 hours before an event
- Collect Custom Information: ie. guests meal choice or t-shirt size, then exportable to a spreadsheet.
- Generate customized name badge templates for all registered attendees.
If you go my slightly more complicated route, use a Whosin to get a final headcount.
3. Create a button
Create a button in PicMonkey that bloggers can display on their sidebar so more eyeballs are on the event.
4. Generate a buzz
1 month out
1. Create a tentative agenda
- Ice Breaker to get people loosened up.
- Keep presentations concise, visual, and interesting.
- Time to fill out Blating Profiles.
- Raffle prizes.
- Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for unique pictures and content.
2. Craft Blating Profiles
I wanted a fun way to get everyone familiar with each other up while also keeping us in touch after the event. My solution? Blog dating profiles! Feel free to use my template as a guide and personalize the questions to your crowd! Consider calling it: The Blating Game, Blate me, maybe? Blaters Gonna Blate, BlaterAid. You're welcome.
I put together a few special swag bags and drew random profiles to win them. If you play a game with winners, these work well as prizes.
3. Buy supplies
- Swag bags. I included trial size beauty products, local items, chocolates, stationary. Ask around for sponsors or etsy owners to donate contents of swag bags. (ie. coupons, gift certificates, homemade goodies, samples) or check your Target dollar bins!
- Paper products
The big day
1. Greet guests
As a hostess, it can be difficult to feel like you need to greet incoming guests while keeping others entertained; especially if the event is Open House style and people are coming and going as they please. This is where your co-host can help take the load off! But don't feel guilty if you have to excuse yourself for a moment from a conversation, your guests will understand!
2. Make people feel comfortable
1 week later
1. Send out a thank you
2. Ask for feedback
It is always helpful to get an outsiders perspective on what they liked/disliked about your event. Be open to constructive criticism. Even if you never host another meetup, it is nice to know your areas of improvement and to make your guests feel as if their opinion is valued which will only strengthen relationships.
- Business cards are a must!
- At first we had wanted to book a hotel and do an overnight but that may be too big of a commitment and too pricey for some, so decided to hold it at one of our houses.
- I wish I had hired a professional photographer-- It was hard to get in photos when I was the one taking them. Plus, it took time away from connecting with my guests.
- Realize planning events take time. A lot of it. (I'd say I spent five 8-hour days) Be sure you have the energy and resources to devote to it before committing. I'm looking at you, BP.
- Bring an open mind and a smile!
Have you ever hosted an event? Any tips and tricks you would add to this list?