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corporate event planning

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Community Blueprint - Business Walks - PART 2

(Click Here for Part 1)

How does it work?
The program features a half-day blitz of a business community by trained volunteers who ask business owners/managers a very short list of four questions (see below).

a.)   How is business?
b.)  What do you like about doing business in your area?
c.)   What can be done to improve doing business in your area?
d.)  Would you like someone to follow up with your company after the walk?  

This brief format allows for 100-200 businesses to be reached in two to three hours. A typical half -day Business Walk will include breakfast/registration, training for the volunteers, a business walk in the community, lunch, and a debrief session.  Overall, coordination of the event from start to finish typically takes two to three months.

Why?
The Business Walk Program helps communities create a unified voice and build a stronger relationship between the business community and local government. The program has also initiated change of burdensome regulations, created crime prevention programs and the 3/50 project. But most importantly, it has allowed communities to target and assist companies at risk: saving them from going out of business, relocating to another community, and saving local jobs. Contact Blueprint Events to see how the Business Walk Program can jump start your community’s business retention and expansion efforts!    

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Community Blueprint - Business Walks - PART 1

What is a Business Walk?

A Business Walk is an economic development initiative that, in a short amount of time, allows local leaders to get the pulse of how a business community is doing. The information gathered is then used to help advocate for the business community as a whole, and is also used by economic professionals to identify which businesses require further outreach.

Why were Business Walks developed?

The initiative was created because economic development professionals realized there was a need for Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) on a large scale. However, many economic development organizations simply lack the time and resources to do it all alone. To that end, Business Walks can be used to help you quickly identify individual businesses, which are facing threats and/or opportunities, thereby necessitating further contact to direct them to appropriate resources. The program was developed not to replace traditional BRE outreach but to enhance it, serving as an entry-level opportunity for BRE efforts.

Part 2: How does it work? Why have one in your community?

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Working The Room - Networking

I have planned and attended hundreds of networking events. So I can tell you that there are two types of people who network.

1.     Person A: Walks in and finds the first familiar face. 

2.    Person B: Scopes out the room, creates a plan, and then proactively tries to interact with new people with the intention of helping their business or someone else’s business.

Let me first say this: there is no “correct” way to network. Person “A” might have intended to only talk to colleagues or friends. In that case, mission complete. With that said, if you are person “A” and want to become person “B,” here is some advice to help you make the most of your time and effort.

1.     Set Expectations Before You Go: Do you want to make new connections to help build your business? Are you looking for new clients? Are you looking for mentors in your field? Are you going to support a cause or see a new space? Or is it a combination of a few of these things? Time is money so it is important to make sure you understand why you are attending an event. Then think of creative ways to craft your elevator pitch around your expectations.

2.     Set A Goal For Yourself: Depending on the size of the event and what your expectations are, you should always set a goal for yourself. This will help you stay focused. A few examples would be… “meet three new people” or “talk to one new person in every corner of the room”. If you find yourself at an event where you know a lot of people already, you might set a goal of “introduce two people to someone else you know”. I think this is a “lost art” in a society where a lot of people only think about themselves. There is power in helping others make connections.  As they say… what goes around comes around.  

3.     Using Your Business Card Correctly: The key to having a business card is only giving it away with purpose. Don’t hand your business card to someone unless you really want to connect. If someone wants to connect with you, they will ask for your card. A tip, that has helped me in the past, is writing on my card where we met. As you can see below, I have a space for it on my card (even if you do not, you can still write it someplace on the card). It will help them remember you and then they are more likely to reach out and connect with you after the event. Also if your goal is three new contacts, keep three business cards in your hand when you walk in. Tell yourself… you can only leave when you have given them away.

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint in everything you do.

Business Card

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Location Location Location

When planning an event, picking the right location can be a critical first step. Location is so important that sometimes it is the sole determinant if someone will attend or not attend. For some events, location selection will be limited due to the budget, size of the event, and/or any other one-off needs. Unique spaces can create excitement and be visually pleasing while; traditional spaces (hotels, conference centers) can be cost effective and convenient. Below are a few key questions to think about when deciding on a location.

1.     Space: How many people can the space accommodate? How can the space be setup? What time is the space available? When can the setup/breakdown occur? Where will registration take place? What signage needs will you have? How many different spaces are available at the location? Overall condition of the space (is it clean)? What can be changed or added to the space? Is storage space available?

2.     Food: Does the space have a preferred vendor? What does the menu look like? Can you bring in your own food? Is there a prep station available? Catering staff onsite? Where will the food and bar be located?

3.     Audio Visual/Equipment: Do they have an in-house AV team? Do they have the needed equipment for the event (projector, screens, switchers, podium, microphones) or will you have to rent? Lighting?

4.     Other: Flexibility on overall event needs? Parking? Coatroom? Wi-Fi? Other onsite amenities? Bathroom locations? Staff availability the day of the event? What permits are needed? Payment options? Cancelation policy? Other venue responsibilities?

5.     Cost: What will everything cost? Does it fit within the budget?

It will be important to go on a site visit of each location, even if you have been to the location before. Make sure you ask the hard questions and get the answers you want in writing. Having a space that is flexible is important, but also understand that there will never be a perfect location. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint for every event you do. #blueprintwisco

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Why Hire an Event Planner?

A few weeks ago I was at an event and someone asked me “why would my company hire you?” I mistakenly said the thing all corporate event planners say, “I will save you time and money”.  At that moment I could tell by the look on their face they were thinking “so what?” I soon realized that although saving a company time and money was of value, it was not the strongest customer perceived benefit.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.[1] The need to find ways to help anxiety and stress are at an all time high. CareerCast.com rated event planning the fifth most stressful job in the country (military and firefighting were also high stress).[2] The fact is planning an event can be stressful and that is why the strongest customer perceived benefit of hiring someone is to relieve that anxiety and stress.

Not only does hiring a contract event planner help to relieve anxiety but it also allows my clients to step back and focus on their strengths. When planning an event, it is very important to have the necessary skills, connections and ability to ask the right questions in order to gain valuable insights into what the company needs and determine what is logistically possible. Leaving the details and planning to a professional allows for a company to have more confidence in knowing their event will be successful.

[1] Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Facts & Statistics,” www.adaa.org, (September 2014).
[2] Career Cast, “Event Coordinator,” www.careercast.com/slide/5-event-coordinator, (2014)

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