A Guide to Hosting Successful Networking Events

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A Guide to Hosting Successful Networking Events

Feb 06, 2024

Hosting a successful event can expand your network and bolster your brand reputation. A well-planned, perfectly executed networking event can build lasting relationships, too. This is important, as you’ll need to create a powerful presence to succeed in the saturated world of business today. 

However, your networking events must offer more than free pizza and alcoholic aperitifs if you want to make a positive impression. Great events provide experiences and goodies that add real value to attendees' lives. This ensures that everyone leaves feeling that their time was well-spent at your event. 

Networking events should be engaging and entertaining, too. Engaging events create a positive atmosphere that can break the ice and help folks get to know one another while playing games, listening to speakers, or eating great food. 

Where to Host Your Event

Effective networking is essential for self-employed entrepreneurs. Forming strong bonds with your community can improve your brand image and is sure to bolster sales. However, hosting a networking event can be tricky if you don’t have a physical store or have limited space on-site. Rather than rushing to book a town hall or park shelter, take the time to research the best venue for your business by: 

  • Defining your goals for the event;

  • Identifying accessibility and attendance challenges; 

  • Checking the available amenities; 

  • Visiting venues and comparing their strengths and weaknesses.

When researching potential venues, be sure to account for potential issues like parking, wheelchair access, and proximity to your audience. When you do find the right venue, be sure to visit in person and liaise with a venue coordinator who has experience hosting networking events.  This can help you foresee potential problems and pivot towards a better venue.

If you’re pressed for funds, consider hosting a virtual event instead. Virtual events are cost-effective and more convenient for attendees. Popular virtual events, like guest speakers talks and speed networking, will help you pull in a bigger crowd from further afield, too. Just be sure to play an active role as a moderator to ensure that everyone is on their best behavior while attending your virtual networking event. 


Booking a venue can be expensive. However, if you want to host a successful networking event, be sure to set aside a budget for refreshments. You don’t necessarily need to provide a three-course meal, but you should be able to keep your guests sated and hydrated for the entire duration of the event. 

If possible, consider avoiding alcohol at your event. According to a recent Gallup poll, 36% of the adult US population no longer drink. Drinking alcohol can impair cognitive function as well. Folks who do drink experience fluctuations in mood, decreased inhibitions, and slurred speech. This can be a real problem if you’re trying to make a good impression on the local community. By side-stepping alcohol, you can help folks focus on meeting new people and engaging with your entertainment. 

Instead, put your budget towards audience-appropriate catering. For example, if you’re trying to impress high-end clients, you’ll probably want to work with caterers that supply hors d'oeuvres and amuse-bouchées with smaller serving sizes but greater attention to detail. If, on the other hand, you’re simply trying to connect with the community, consider hiring a few tried-and-tested food trucks that sell popular street food options like tacos and macaroni cheese. 


Poorly planned networking events are extremely awkward and will reflect poorly on your business. You can’t expect folks to start engaging without direction and should provide some form of entertainment or attraction to boost your attendance rates.

You don’t need to blow your whole budget on a guest speaker or show, either. Even simple forms of entertainment, like card games, can help break the ice and get folks to engage with one another. That’s because card games teach attendees business lessons related to negotiation, organization, and prioritization. Most business people know how to play card games like poker and cribbage, too, and will be keen to attend an evening of light entertainment with other professionals in the area. 

Try to provide entertainment that adds value to your participant's lives, too. Folks will be far more likely to attend if they feel they will gain something of value for attending your event. For example, if you work in an industry like marketing, consider hosting a guest speaker who specializes in topics like social media content creation or image editing. If possible, try to offer a Q+A session, too, as this will encourage folks to engage with your event. 


Networking events can make a world of difference to your brand presence and perception. As a self-employed entrepreneur, you can use these events to widen your network and form strong bonds with your community, too. Just be sure to plan your event well in advance, as you’ll need to account for accessibility issues and should be able to offer entertainment and activities that help folks socialize and add real value to attendees' lives. 

Meet The Author:


Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.


The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

Courtesy of NASE.org