Think your university community is tech savvy? You’ll still need to promote your online networking event if you want people to participate. This marketing plan will help you reel ‘em in.
Your university’s community is already connected.
Students are participating in online discussion boards, professors are giving video lectures, and just about everyone you see walking across the quad is frantically texting.
Planning an online networking event is the perfect next step to use all of that technology productively.
Whether you’ve invited admitted students to chat with upperclassmen, or you hope to bring together your alumni community, waiting for people to sign up can turn you into an anxious event host. But you can calm your nerves with a winning marketing plan for your event.
Promoting your event does more than the essential task of raising awareness and attracting attendees. It also shows off your willingness to innovate and embrace new ways of interacting through technology. By marketing your online event, you’ll be proving to your audience that connections can be built no matter the place — or time zone!
So don’t wait until the last minute to start recruiting participants.
One to two weeks before your networking event: spread the word
It’s best to start marketing your event one to two weeks in advance, although you don’t have to rush out to post flyers on every single bulletin board. Make sure you’re checking these essential marketing tasks off your list: (Click here to tweet this marketing task list.)
- Add your event to your events calendar and website. If you’re offering a series of events, use that series to drive buzz. If you can attract a participant for one event, they’re likely to join you again.
- Submit event information to your career services office, student newspaper, or alumni listserv. Some schools even share event information on Blackboard courses as an announcement.
- Include event details in your newsletter, or send a dedicated save-the-date email. Make sure your students and alumni know that you’re embracing this exciting new technology to make their professional development easier.
- Ask your staff, and partner offices to share the event among their networks.
- Launch a social media push. Have university accounts tweet about the event two times per week up until the event.
- Have you made a Facebook event? Be sure to share it with other pages your college runs; ask your fans to share with a friend.
Explain how the event works
Be sure to emphasize that your event will take place online, and all participants need is a computer and an Internet connection. Here’s a note you might post on LinkedIn:
Join us for our All-Alumni Meet &Greet on Nov 14 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST. Participants will be able to connect one-on-one with other alumni to build and expand your network, be a professional resource to others, provide tips on grad school, answer questions about your city, and more. The event is online, so all you need is a computer or your mobile device and an internet connection. On the day of the event, simply log in and “make your status available” to chat with other alumni. Don’t miss your chance, it’s easy and fun. What a difference an hour can make! Click here to register and complete your profile for the event!
When you’re marketing through social media tools like Twitter, don’t forget your event link! Pull in potential attendees with a brief, friendly message and the link to sign up. If your office or campus has a hashtag you can fit in, include it! Here are a few examples:
- Mark your calendars for 2/10! Alumni and students, connect at this Online Networking Event! http://bit.ly/19W8yye
- Looking forward to networking with @GWalumni today – GW LinkedIn Online Networking Hour – 12-1pm EDT http://bit.ly/1dkvkjS
- Add 12 new connections to your rolodex at breakfast or lunch tmw w/ speed networking online. #ColumbiaConnects http://bit.ly/1dkvkjS
A few days before your networking event: go the extra mile
When your event is a few days away, it’s time to make an extra push to promote it. Here are a few options you should be thinking about:
- Send an email with event details, encouraging readers to sign up right away. Sharing a link with tips on making connections at online networking events can help alumni and students feel confident in this new networking experience.
- Print flyers to share at in-person events or give to visitors in your office.
- Consider advertising for an extra boost. If your Facebook audience is engaged, a sponsored post for $5 or $10 might be all you need to pump up your registration numbers.
- Don’t forget to keep posting on social media! Be on watch for questions from potential participants so you can answer them quickly. Encourage alumni to use the social share buttons on your event page to spread the word once they sign up. (Those share buttons are our favorite new feature for event pages!)
If you follow these tips, you’ll feel prepared and excited on the day of your event. Your final task? One last social-media push. For added peace of mind, try to schedule these reminder posts in advance.
Then, all you’ll have to do is sit back and enjoy the interaction that takes place in your online event. You might even feel like jumping into the conversation and making a few new connections for yourself!
Ginny Manocha is the Director of Accounts and Customer Success at Brazen. Ginny describes herself as curious learner and loves reading about new trends between business, technology, and marketing. Follow her @ginnymanocha or connect on LinkedIn.