Organizing a Startup Event on a Budget
You don’t have to be based out of a major city to know that part of entrepreneurial success is networking and getting to know other businesses in your community. This is sometimes called B2B marketing. You have a few options for how you can meet some of these people. You can start with your town’s chamber of commerce to meet some of the influential leaders in your local business community. Beyond that you can attend town council meetings, volunteer at events, or host your own gatherings.
Even the entrepreneur on a budget can host an event in her local area if you know the right tools to use.
Organize the Date
One of the first things you need to do is actually organize the date of the event, planning out the time and securing a location. A location can be anywhere, from someone’s house to a coworking space. Contact the owner of the space and ask if you can hold the function there. If the owner raises objections, calmly listen to their reasoning and remember what you offer:
· You will be bringing a group of business professionals to the event
· You will bring exposure to the owner of the property, listing him or her as a sponsor
· You can advertise the services of the space (especially nice if you plan to host in a coworking space)
You’ll need to make some phone calls and see what you can come up with. Don’t book space at hotels, it’s not the most cost-effective, and may not be the most accommodating either.
A simple email list will work for most of the attendees to your event, but formal invitations printed on stationary is a good hook for business leaders in your area. Devote your resources where it counts. You want attendees, but it’s easier to get them through standard networking processes. With business leaders, you may only have one opportunity to establish contact. You want to show that you’re serious, that you can offer them a valuable platform to discuss their ideas, and that their time will be valued.
On you invitation, leave a contact number for yourself so that you can be reached for pitches. Follow up with those contacts a few days after sending the invitation to see if there are any interested parties looking to talk.
Set up a Facebook invitation where guests can RSVP and leave comments about the event. Meetup.com can also help you recruit followers outside of your own social sphere.
A pancake breakfast is a fantastic and cost-effective way to feed people at an event and get people talking. A portable, heated skillet will work well to cook and you can buy mix that lets you add water to make pancakes. Keep it simple.
Structure a Q&A in the middle of your event so that the focus is on a professional with experience. Make it easy for the audience to learn things from the business leaders present.
You can also organize a pitch time, where your peers pair off and practice refining pitches and role play as potential investors.
Blog About the Event
Along with any coverage you are already bringing to social media, you should do a roundup post that talks about the event. Name specific people who spoke, thank everyone for their time and provide a summary of the event.
You should also guest blog your experiences planning the event, with practical advice and examples.
Photo credit: youngworkathomemoms.wordpress.com