How to organize networking events for free using your LinkedIn network
July 16, 2009
LinkedIn is the premier social networking site for business professionals. It is the most consequential tool that I use to reach my business goals. As the moderator of the Downtown San Francisco Networking Group, I organize monthly and quarterly events for professionals who work downtown to network to create business opportunities for them. I am personally concerned that a large percentage of our group is unemployed due to the economic downturn, some for almost a year! So, I decided to organize an Employment Symposium that will focus on improving resume writing skills, interviewing tips, how to prepare for, how to dress for, and how to follow up an interview. Because these individuals are unemployed, cost is of paramount concern. Skeptics suggested that this may take at least 3 - 4 months to plan and cost thousands of dollars. Here is how I have use LinkedIn to organize this event for free in a month, like I have done for all of my previous events for my group.
First, I needed a location that could hold at least a hundred people comfortably so I updated my status indicating such. Within minutes, a colleague - Janine Mixon, Dean of Student Affairs at Golden Gate University - said that she might be able to get me space for no charge. Through my networking group, Janine introduced me to her colleagues David Javate (Assistant Director of Sales) and Ami Readdy (Recruiting and the Associate Director of Business Career Coaching), who both agreed to allow us to use their facility for free, provide resource materials, career guidance and placement information, etc. as parting gifts, assistant with obtaining panelists and with completing the planning. After another status update, I obtained two businesses that agreed to sponsor the food for the event. Finally, upon searching through my LinkedIn contacts, I have leaned on my Fortune 500 recruiting contacts to donate their time by being panelists / facilitators. The moral of this story is, "Use your network to make the impossible, possible".
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