5 Things We've Learned About Event Planning from Ladies Lounge
If you asked us two years ago if we were event planners we would have said no. We'd been to a few networking events and planned a trunk show or two, but event planning wouldn't be something we'd add to out list of expertise. Now, with almost one year and 12 successful Ladies Lounge events under our belts, we'd say yes, we do plan events, and yes, we do have a few pointers.
Whether you are planning an office party, a networking event, a charity gala or a bridal shower, there's a few things we think you should know about planning an event for more than 10 guests.
1. Start planning early
When we say early, we mean months in advance. We have it pretty good since every month we already have our space and sponsors in place, so we only plan each event two months in advance. That means we pick our event theme and we start reaching out to potential speakers. If you do not have a set space or sponsor, the more time you can give yourself and all collaborators, the better. Two months in advance is probably only realistic for shorter networking events like our Ladies Lounge events. If you are planning an all night charity event, we recommend starting 4-6 months in advance and suggest treating it like a wedding so guests can plan their schedules, travel, outfits etc.
2. Promote early and often
Once you confirm a date, promote your event! If you want to play it on the safe side, get some more green lights from the event space, a sponsor, speakers, or whoever you are working with and then start. You need to get attendees on lock ASAP and you need to stay in the front of them with constant motivation and reminders. Hit them with all your social channels! For Ladies Lounge we have a banner ad on our sidebar, we blog about it, we post to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook constantly and we send out an event email using Mail Chimp.
3. Have a clear way for attendees to sign up
Make it as easy as possible for guests to register for your event by providing links to an event registration system like Eventbrite. For smaller events some organizations like to use Paperless Post invites as they have more design options, however we have found that often users open the invites and forget to sign up. Probably best to eliminate the extra step. Either way, what you really want is a system that helps you track ticket numbers, payments, and the guest list.
4. Allow time for late arrivals and networking
People rarely show up time, especially for after work events. Have some buffer time before to prevent latecomers walking in mid-presentation. This also gives guests a moment to use the restroom, grab some wine (extra tip: always have drinks and apps), catch up with friends and network.
5. Plan for the unexpected
Nothing is worse than having a vendor or presenter fall through, but life happens. Plan for it. We do. We keep a constant list of potential speakers in case one falls through. Even if you think everything is set in stone, make sure you get to know and have a network of restaurants, sponsors, presenters that can you can turn to in a bind, because you never know!