Industry Research

How To Harvest Meeting Planner Leads by Throwing Your Own Event

Sara Eastwood-McLean
Posted on August 1, 2012
One of the best ways to get more business is to hold your own networking event, as Integrated Transportation Services of Los Angeles did on July 26 to showcase its new fleet of Cadillac XTS sedans. President Jonna Sabroff (center) hosted a wine and cheese reception and jewelry display at her office while guests could mingle and network after viewing the vehicles in the parking lot.

One of the best ways to get more business is to hold your own networking event, as Integrated Transportation Services of Los Angeles did on July 26 to showcase its new fleet of Cadillac XTS sedans. President Jonna Sabroff (center) hosted a wine and cheese reception and jewelry display at her office while guests could mingle and network after viewing the vehicles in the parking lot.

One of the best ways to get more business is to hold your own networking event, as Integrated Transportation Services of Los Angeles did on July 26 to showcase its new fleet of Cadillac XTS sedans. President Jonna Sabroff (center) hosted a wine and cheese reception and jewelry display at her office while guests could mingle and network after viewing the vehicles in the parking lot.
One of the best ways to get more business is to hold your own networking event, as Integrated Transportation Services of Los Angeles did on July 26 to showcase its new fleet of Cadillac XTS sedans. President Jonna Sabroff (center) hosted a wine and cheese reception and jewelry display at her office while guests could mingle and network after viewing the vehicles in the parking lot.

It’s summer and considered this industry’s “off season” for corporate work. Meeting planners love a party and what better way to gain access to the group business than to clink glasses in a social setting. Here’s a marketing idea to consider that will boost leads for you in the meetings and events industry.

Look around your market for any and all types of business that are also keen on the meetings/events planner market. For example, make a list of the best facilities around, the best caterers, the best talent agencies, the best sound/lighting/audio visual companies, party rental companies and more. Work with synergistic companies that complement your chauffeured transportation business and get everyone you can to “sponsor” a networking party. Since this is YOUR IDEA, then naturally the event should be “hosted” by your company and “sponsored” by all the others you lined up. Make this the bash to remember.

Gary Bauer at Bauers Intelligent Transportation in San Francisco does this with flair at his Concierge Ball. Your event can range from a gourmet slider BBQ, to a wine tasting social with guitarist at a winery, to a theme party with a twist, or a city dine-around. The sky is the limit. 

Also, you and your sponsors should encourage your top accounts to come. This way, the room is sure to be filled, your customers will be delighted by the gesture and they will put in a good word for you to the meetings and events planners that do not know you well.

Here are a few more tips to ensure that your event is a success:

  1. Make the event unique.
  2. Friday nights work best.
  3. Allow spouses or guests.
  4. Must have great food.
  5. Should have a creative ice breaker.
  6. You should have gifts or prizes. (Find a sponsor that sells promotional items)
  7. Consider attendance builders like drawings.
  8. Get the word out — obtain lists of meeting planners, event planners, conference planners and DMCs by leaning on trade associations.

Don’t forget this is a lead generator and that your No. 1 goal is get new business. You will want to use this party to attract new customers. That means your mission is to get a good turnout and then work the room!

On the subject of networking for business at an event, I’ve made a list of do’s and don’ts. If you are shy, an action plan is critical. If you are the smoothest cat around, these basics are still good to file away:

Don’t drink too much. Two glasses of wine on an empty stomach can cause social havoc. Suddenly, it seems entirely appropriate to be telling filthy jokes or hold a group of senior executives spellbound with the story of your disastrous first date.

Pick four safe topics, which aren’t related to business, that you can discuss without revealing too much personal detail. Travel, TV shows news stories — although never politics — and holiday plans are all safe ground.

Don’t pitch at parties. Good minglers know that while they might meet someone at a social event who can change their business, its bad manners to pitch there and then.

Converse respectfully. However tempting it may be, in your five-minute window of opportunity waiting to be served at the bar, launching into a spiel about your brilliant company or asking directly about business opportunities is guaranteed to irritate them. If the conversation naturally turns to work, it’s fine to indicate you’d like to talk further and offer a business card — but then steer the talk back to more light-hearted topics. When the conversation ends, you can simply say: “I’d love to follow up on what we talked about.”

Dress appropriately. Good network dressing means a bit of sparkle and an elegantly cut outfit that covers a good two-thirds of your body. People still judge on first impressions — and if you scream “Sex Bomb!” or “Pimp Daddy Smooth” you may not be entrusted with a meeting for business professionals.

Don’t pig out on food. The food at the event is likely to be canapés or a buffet — and while it’s a bad idea not to eat at all, make sure you’re not cramming your mouth full of flaky pastry every time someone talks to you. Choose canapés you can eat neatly — and don’t pile your buffet plate like a Jenga tower or you’ll still be battling through potato salad while your best contacts are getting their coats.

Approach ones and twos, NOT threes and fours. Most people are intimidated by the idea of breaking into a group chatting happily. Do you drift awkwardly on the edge until they notice you or stride in and cut across the conversation? That’s why it’s much easier to target groups of two.

It’s estimated that at least 60% of all work is found by networking. Study your guest’s body language and, if they’re leaning inwards and are intently focused, don’t interrupt. But if they’re openly scanning the room, it’s the perfect moment. Say: “Hi, I don’t want to interrupt, I’m just introducing myself. I am the host and want to welcome you.” Keep a record of whom you spoke to, those you gave a business card to, and what you talked about. A few days later, you can send a follow-up email referring briefly to the conversation and inviting them to keep in touch.

Sara Eastwood-McLean

Related Topics: group transportation, How To, meetings and conventions, networking

Comments ( 2 )
  • See all comments
  • john07

     | about 6 years ago

    Organized content is the best way to display or post an article, thank you for making it easy to digest your post.

More Stories
News

2018's Luxury Travel Trends

Among the highlights for next year is a focus on far-flung destinations along with international trips of two weeks or more.

(Creative Commons Pixabay.com image by geralt)
Article

Too Much Smart Talk On A.I.

AUG. LCT Editor's Edge: Civilization advances non-stop. Intelligent machines free us from menial physical and mental labor.

Dallas skyline (Photo via PEXELS user Pixabay)
News

America's Top Business Travel Cities

Factors include number of on-time flights, cost of lodging, reliability of mobile network coverage, traffic congestion levels, and emergency-room performance.