What I’ve learned from hosting 100 local lunch events

We did it! We made it to 100 lunches!

Over the past year, Intronis has been hosting local lunches for MSPs, and all together we’ve successfully hosted 100 lunches! It’s an exciting milestone, but it took plenty of hard work to get here. We’ve crisscrossed the country, traveling to almost every state (and Canada!).

I’ve learned a lot along the way, so I wanted to share some of the tips I’ve picked up about how to host a successful local lunch event for current and prospective customers:

1. You need a good team to support you. I couldn’t possibly do everything by myself, so having a good solid team to help while I’m on the road or in the air has been essential. I can’t say thanks enough to everyone in office who has helped with tweets, emails, and phone calls. Our lunches would be empty without those invites and promotion.

2. Lists are your best friend. I’ve learned that if I don’t have a list, then I’ll probably forget something. I always make sure to walk myself through the planning process each time I plan a lunch so I can make sure not to forget a single thing.

3. The planning really never ends , and I’ve learned that the sooner I start, the more time I have to follow that list I created. I want to make sure everything is in order when the day of the lunch comes because nothing happens overnight. (And you’ll make it all twice as difficult if you try to do everything last minute!)

4. Remember the two Ps —Projector and Parking! At the second lunch I hosted, I forgot to check for both of these, and it was quite the setback. I was unaware of the parking availability, which caused one of our registrants to not attend. Also when arriving, I realized that I had forgotten to ask if they had a projector available to rent. This resulted in me having to run to the store and purchase one mid-lunch. I now know that both of these things are VERY important, and I never forget to ask about either one.

5. Handouts and other swag are always a great way to make sure your guests have all the information they need . I always send out a box of folders, pens, and name tags a few days before the event so I have them waiting for me when I arrive to the restaurant. Often I have guests comment on how great it is that they can refer to the information at a later time or show it to their colleagues back at the office who were unable to make it.

6. Pack extras (More is better). I always bring extra of everything! That includes pens, folders, and name tags. You never know who will show up, and you want to make sure those extra guests have everything they need. My suitcase is filled with extra business cards to hand out, markers, rolls of tape, and empty name tags. (TSA must think I’m crazy!)

7. Have a backup plan. We’ve had times when our stuff hasn’t made it to the event, and I always have a backup plan in case that happens. A few weeks ago a box of folders didn’t get delivered to the restaurant, so our solution was to put together packets at office and individually mail them to our guests. This way they were able to have our info in hand within a few days.

8. Find ways to get customers engaged. Whether it’s meeting our guests in person or engaging with them on social media before and after the lunches, I love how the lunches help us interact with our partners. I always enjoy seeing our partners post on social media when we ask for ideas for new locations. My favorite was when we had a Twitter follower who was able to crack our clues about what city we were going to go next.

9. Encourage networking. One of my favorite things about hosting these lunches is the amount of networking that I see happen at the event. There are so many local businesses that come together, and it gives them a chance to get to know each other and talk shop. It’s also been great having partners attend who are able to help answer questions others might have about Intronis.

10. Sleep! When traveling you never know what curveball your airline will throw at you. I have had delayed flights, early flights and everything in between. That’s why I always make sure to bring a travel pillow with me so that I’m well rested when the time comes that I have to jump back on my feet to the next destination. Even if you don’t have to travel that far for your own event, make sure you get plenty of rest the night before — you’ll need it!

I hope these tips will help you host your own successful lunch event to connect with your own customers and prospects. Trust me, it will be well worth the effort.

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