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Five mistakes to avoid for a successful networking event in Public Affairs

The success of networking events depends not only on your performance at the event itself, but on the experience you create for your guests, the little details distinguishing your event from all the others out there, and your overall engagement before, during, and after.

BERLIN – Hosting networking events is an essential tool for public affairs professionals as it combines opportunities to foster your network, raise your visibility, and strengthen your brand. Effective networking isn’t about quantity though, it’s about quality.

Here are five of the most common mistakes to avoid:

1. Picking the wrong main attraction

The first thing your guests will look for is your main attraction. Picking the right keynote speaker or panel and having them meet your guests’ expectations will make or break your event. A great speaker can elevate your event from merely informative to truly inspirational. It is important to pick a main act, who is fairly known and draws a crowd. Your guests usually receive many invitations and get to see ‘celebrities’ all the time though. Make sure you impress them with a name they don’t get to see every day, with new insights on a current issue, background information, or a story they haven’t heard yet. Therefore, when choosing your main attraction, think about your audience first.

2. Choosing the wrong venue

The choice of venue is critical to the success of your event, especially in cities that offer breakfast events, lunch-talks, and evening receptions every day of the week. Your guests have seen most venues, know most caterers, and don’t want to spend too much time in a taxi between your event and their next appointment. Therefore, pick a venue, which is easy to reach and put some effort into choosing an adequate setting for your event. The more stylish the interior, or the more scenic the view – the more pictures your guest will take and post on their social media. The better the catering, the longer your guests are willing to stay. Don’t be predictable. Be bold and try something new.

3. Inviting the world to fill seats

The success of your event does not necessarily depend on how many people eventually show up, but also on who you’re in touch with during the invitation-process. Take a strategic approach to curating your guest list by creating a comprehensive stakeholder map for your specific purpose. Identify key decision makers, industry and opinion leaders, who fit the occasion. Invite only the people you want to connect with, those you want to nurture your relationships with, those who are a good fit with an intrinsic motivation to care about the topic. However, even if it seems appealing to have the room filled to the last seat, avoid handing out your invitations to everybody and their grandmother.


4. Underwhelming images

Branding your event and creating memorable images are essential components of a successful networking event and help you maximize its reach. From custom made rollups to branded merchandise and giveaways, every detail should reflect your corporate identity and values.

You should also have a professional photographer or videographer on site to capture those moments you and your guests can share after the event. Place key banners and logos in a way that it’s almost impossible to take pictures of the speakers without iconic branding.

The cherry on the cake can be small branded gifts that your guest will actually take with them. Think outside the box and be creative, or funny, or even a little provocative. Just another branded pen? Well, your guests have enough of these.

5. Neglecting the follow-up

Your event isn’t over once your guests have left the venue. A thorough follow-up will solidify the connections you’ve made and maintain engagement, even with those who couldn’t make it. Start by sending thank-you-emails and try adding a personal note, referencing the conversations you’ve had with your guests and including image material they will like.

If it wasn’t on social media, it didn’t happen: Use your personal and/or company’s channels to share insights and images of the event. Monitor your guests’ accounts in case they also post about it and engage with them. Value your guests’ feedback and foster a sense of community beyond the physical event.


It’s human that some of the above does not receive enough attention. But the more you manage to invest in these points, the more will your guests retain a positive and lasting impression, making the event a success for you and your company.


Julia Brüger, Senior Consultant at BOLDT: [email protected]

Ferdinand Sacksofsky, Partner at BOLDT: [email protected]