Networking is one of the greatest tools in any business’ armoury. After all, we’ve all heard the old adage that ‘it’s not what you know, but whom you know.’ As much as we would all love to live in a meritocracy, the reality is that knowing the right people can get you places, not just as an individual but also as a business.

However, networking is a tricky ace to play. There are very few successful enterprises that will interface with you for purely altruistic reasons. You have to have something to bring to the table yourself, and one of the best ways to showcase this is through networking events. The extent to which you benefit from these will be entirely defined by how well you play things, so here are three top tips to help you plan the perfect networking occasion.

Tip #1: Every Invitation Should Be Strategic

As cutthroat as it sounds, the purpose of networking is to make contacts that you can use, so every invitation needs to be strategic. Too many companies see these events as an opportunity to invite everyone they know, but all this does is raise costs and reduce your chances of spending time with the right people. So how do you combat this? The best way is to sit down and draw up a guest list with a twist: for every name you add, you must also add a reason why their presence will be of benefit. This way, you know that every single person you invite could help your business to prosper.

Tip #2: Location Sets the Tone

A further factor to consider is the location of your event. Networking activities put your business on show for the whole professional world to see, so you need to make sure that you’re projecting the right image. Choosing the perfect location is one of the best ways to do this. The place that you choose to hold your meeting, workshop or presentation will set the tone for the whole event, so use your venue as an opportunity to enhance your reputation. Companies like LEO, for example, offer some truly exquisite high-end venues, making their offerings the perfect place to showcase your business.

Tip #3: Always Use a Seating Plan

Our third and final tip is this: seating plans are your friend. Although most networking events will offer attendees the occasion to mill around at some point during the activities, most of the conversation will take place around the tables. To make sure that you fully utilise the chances that your event presents, make sure that you’re in control of who sits where. Deploy your best employees to sit amongst your most important guests, so that every opportunity that presents itself is taken full advantage of.

Follow these three top tips today to turn your networking event into a roaring success.