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Networking Like a Pro: How to Host a Successful Business Mixer

Establishing your own business sometimes requires getting people to come to "your cave" to learn more about your products and services. Hosting a business mixer is a great way to do this kind of networking.

There are many innovative things you can do to ensure your event is both fun and successful. While throwing a successful business mixer isn't easy, if you remember that your primary purpose is to facilitate networking, you'll be OK.

Here are some tips to help you host an effective, engaging and entertaining event:

  • If you have a large enough office, hold your gathering there to give your business exposure.
  • Don't try to distract from the purpose of the event -- networking -- by dominating the event with speeches or presentations.
  • Plan the mixer no less than eight weeks in advance. Invite many guests and get people to donate door prizes.
  • Encourage all your guests to bring information on their products or services. Have one or more large tables set aside with a sign for this purpose.
  • Designate several "visitor hosts" to greet guests as they arrive and make sure they fill out nametags. 
  • Have just a few chairs available to keep people moving and mingling.
  • Conduct a short networking exercise. For example, have each guest meet three people he or she hasn't met before or ask guests to find someone in a similar line of business.
  • Have a "Meet Your (Business) Match" mixer with designated areas for specific business professions such as finance, real estate and health care. Another idea: Have everyone pick a card out of a hat with the name of one half of a famous duo on it so that guests keep meeting people until they run into their "partner."
  • At the end of the mixer, spend no more than 10 minutes making announcements and giving door prizes.

Always remember that the primary purpose as the host of a mixer is to facilitate networking. Focus on that, and, you'll be on track for a successful event.
 

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Ivan Misner is founder and chairman of BNI, a professional business networking organization headquartered in Upland, Calif. He is co-author, with Hazel Walker and Frank De Raffele, of Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think (Entrepreneur Press, 2012).
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