Header image of people at a networking event

How To Host a Networking Event: Must-Have Materials for Success

Remember that networking event where you accidentally called the CEO by the wrong name and got stuck in a painfully pointless conversation for about half an hour? 

We've all been there. Networking events can be amazing for making connections, but they can also turn into cringe-worthy disasters if you're not prepared.

But don't let awkward encounters put you off! With the right prep and some solid networking event ideas, your next event can be your ticket to business opportunities, new mentorships, or even lifelong friendships.  

We're going to unpack the must-have materials and organisational tricks you need for a top-notch event. 

This means things like sharp signage, pro name badges, and (thanks to Avery) all those presentation extras that make you look like the organised pro that you are. Let's make this networking event work for you!

People sitting on tables conversing amongst each other at an event

Planning Your Networking Event

Think of planning a networking event like building a house - you wouldn't start slapping walls together without a solid foundation. Here's how to lay the groundwork for a stress-free and successful gathering:

  • Start early, get clear: Give yourself plenty of time! The bigger the event, the earlier you need to start getting organised. Ask yourself, what's the goal? Are you aiming to generate leads, connect with potential mentors, or build industry relationships? Knowing what you want to achieve will shape the whole event.
  • Location, location, location: Where you host your event says a lot. Will it be a swanky rooftop bar for a young professional crowd? A local community centre for a more down-to-earth vibe? Consider the size, accessibility, and the overall atmosphere. And never forget to make sure the date doesn't clash with major holidays or other big events in your industry.
  • The guest list is gold: Are you targeting a specific industry or keeping it open for a wider mix? Don't invite just anyone; think quality over quantity. Start compiling your list and pop on that detective hat for online invites - LinkedIn and those industry email newsletters are your friends!
Image 1: People introducing themselves to one another wearing fabric name badges. Image 2: A business card changing hands. Image 3: Welcoming label signage at an event

Essential Materials for Networking Events

Now that you've nailed down the planning, it's time for the fun part - getting all the goodies that make your event run smoothly and look like you've been doing this for years!

Professional Name Badges

Forget those blurry scribbles on sticky notes! Name badges are THE networking must-have - they save your guests from super awkward "Is your name Sarah? No wait, Emily?" moments. Avery's got a bunch of customisable name badge options that are a cinch to design and print.

Here's a tip: Keep it clean and simple. Use big, bold text for names, and maybe just include the company name underneath. No need to squeeze in an entire job title.

Customised Business Cards

Think of business cards as a tiny leave-behind billboard for you or your company. Those flimsy, generic cards? Toss them out! Invest in ones that showcase your brand and have all your important contact info. Avery's design and print services can elevate your card game to pro status.

Event Signage and Labels

No one likes feeling lost, especially at a networking event where meeting the right people is the whole point. Clear signage is your new best friend - welcome signs, food and drink labels, even those sneaky little bathroom pointers. 

Avery does way more than just badges: think customisable banners and branded directional arrows. All those extra touches that make your event look organised and welcoming.

Conference and Presentation Materials

If you're doing presentations or have those all-important company brochures, don't give people a messy stack of papers.  

Avery's dividers, display books, and binders will make your info packs look super tidy and way more likely to be kept and read later. Plus, it's another chance to subtly put your branding out there!

Image of Clear Soft Cover Plastic Display Book - Product code 49113

Branding Your Event

Networking events can be a mixed bag. Imagine your guests finding it a breeze to navigate, connect with the right people, and walk away with materials that actually remind them who they met and why. 

Consistent branding helps create a memorable and valuable experience for attendees - and makes you look great in the process!

Here's how to tie your event together:

  • Consistency is key: From your welcome signs to those goodie bags, keep your colours, fonts, and branding style consistent throughout. Even little details matter - like branded notepads and pens. The more unified your presentation, the more it reinforces who you are.
  • The power of customisation: Ditch the mismatched folders and generic handouts! Customising your event materials with Avery takes you from forgettable to polished. Think sleek branded presentation folders, attention-grabbing display signs, and even themed labels on takeaway treats. Avery helps those little details tell the bigger story of your brand, taking your event from ho-hum to memorable. 
Image of a folded Thank You card

After the Event: Follow-Ups and Thank You’s

The work's not over when those last name badges get collected! In fact, a killer follow-up game is how you turn a good networking event into great relationships.

  • Strike while the iron's hot: Don't wait weeks to reconnect with those promising leads. Within a few days, craft those follow-up emails. Be brief, mention a specific point from your conversation, and include any promised material (like that company info they asked for).
  • The thank you power play: In this digital world, a handwritten thank you card stands out like a beacon, especially for key contacts, potential mentors, or anyone who went above and beyond at your event. Avery's got beautiful printable cards to add that personal, professional touch. A few sincere words can strengthen that relationship you spent the whole event building.

Pro tip: Don't just repeat your contact info! Tailor those follow-ups and thank yous to show you value the connection. Remember, it's about quality over quantity!

People staring intently and discussing in front of a board of various graphs and post-it notes

Financial Planning and Funding

Let's be honest; hosting a great networking event isn't free. That's why having a handle on your budget and knowing your funding options is crucial - the last thing you want is financial surprises to ruin all that hard work!

  • Budget like a pro: Start with the basics: venue costs, food and drinks, and those snazzy printed materials you'll need for the event. Don't forget to factor in those sneaky hidden costs too - venue hire, catering, speaker fees, tech hire, all those bits and pieces! Set a realistic budget and track your spending to avoid overspending.
  • Cash flow is king: No one likes late-night panics because the venue deposits due, and you're still waiting on some late payments! Forecast your income and expenses - ticket sales, sponsorship, etc. Knowing when money's coming in and going out gives you much-needed peace of mind (and way fewer grey hairs!)
  • Need a boost? Funding options: If you need a funding boost for your next event, here are the most common places startups turn to:
    • Bootstrapping: Funding your event with your own savings or profits if you have them!
    • Find an event partner: Join forces with a complementary business or organisation. Co-hosting can help share costs, boost attendance, and reach a wider audience.
  • Crowdfunding: Harness the power of the crowd via platforms like Pozible or StartSomeGood. Perfect for events with a strong community aspect.
Collection of Avery conferencing & event products including name badge labels, business cards and placecards.

Ready To Network Like a Pro?

Okay, now you've got this! We've covered everything from those early planning stages to sending the perfect thank you card. It might seem like a lot, but remember - good preparation creates awesome events where real connections are made. 

And remember, Avery's your ultimate event sidekick! We've got everything from business cards that scream professional to customisable labels and signage that bring your whole event together. Get creative, plan smart, and watch those networking opportunities soar!

If you have questions about how our products can help your next networking event, feel free to reach out to our dedicated customer service team.

If you're in Australia, call 1800 644 353 or contact us at 0800 228 379 if you live in New Zealand.

You can also browse our FAQ page for quick answers to common labelling questions.

FAQs About How To Host a Networking Event - Must-Have Materials

A successful networking event needs a few key ingredients. Firstly, a well-chosen, accessible venue creates the right atmosphere. Next, clearly defined goals help you shape every aspect, from invitations to those post-event thankyou's. 

And naturally, you need people! Crafting a targeted guest list ensures the right mix of attendees eager to connect. Finally, all those must-have materials - name badges, branded signage, presentation folders - tie it all together and boost professionalism.

Hosting a stellar networking event is all about the balance between good planning and a friendly atmosphere. Thorough preparation means your guests won't feel lost or confused. Ice-breakers and activities get the conversations flowing, but leaving room for spontaneity is also important. 

Don't underestimate the power of snacks, comfortable seating, and the little helpful touches that show you care about the attendee experience!

People attend networking events with diverse goals. Some are there to land that dream job, others to find mentors, build industry knowledge, or even just practice their social skills. 

Your job as the host is to create an environment where those connections can happen organically. Whether it's through open discussion time, structured activities, or just a well-designed space, aim to help people break the ice and start meaningful conversations.