We have all heard it a 1,000 times: relationships are everything. People do business with people they trust. When it comes to planning a relationship-building event, it is easy for meeting planners and their clients to quickly become bogged down by logistics and content.
You know the drill: focusing too much on the content, determining room capacities, fine-tuning the agenda and breakout topics… the list goes on. Your attendees can quickly sense that the focus is on the details and logistics instead of on them.
Here at AMI, our meeting planners are encouraged to step out of planning mode and work with our clients on building those vital relationship connections. We incorporate several strategies to foster relationships and to assist our clients in building their relationships with their attendees on a regular basis.
Here are six of our most common strategies:
- Involve attendees in the planning process and ask for their input and opinion. Ask them for input on the agenda. How do they like to collaborate on an issue? If they have the feeling they have collaborated on and own a piece of the meeting or event, they are more likely to promote your product/organization.
- Follow their “MO” (mode of operation). If they have a preferred method of communicating (i.e., email, phone, etc.), use it. If they have a particular system or certain key phrases that they use on a regular basis, adopt them into your method.
- Pay particular attention to first-time attendees, and assign a staff member to focus only on newcomers. The role of that staff member is to seek connections with other newcomers and connect them. The more comfortable attendees feel at an event, the more likely they are to return.
- Connect on a personal level. Listen carefully and make a mental note of interests you may have in common, for example, their favorite sports team, favorite travel destination, and general likes/dislikes. You can later reference that information to strike up or maintain further conversation.
- Make a note of their favorite food or drink, and be sure to include that on a future menu or at a future event.
- Engage them after the program. Follow-up and ask for their opinion on the results of specific areas of the content, or ask them how to improve the event next time.
Relationships with attendees are the foundation of building a strong network and, in turn, growing your bottom-line. While these strategies many seem like minute details, they can go a long way toward building strong relationships and ensuring they last for years to come.