I recently held a networking pond event at my home that drew upwards of a hundred participants. What are the benefits of hosting a pond event? How does one promote the event? Can anyone host an event?
As a professional pond builder, I am always seeking out new innovations and networking opportunities to grow my business. New innovations make our jobs easier and networking can result in huge savings in materials cost, since distributors give better pricing to their better customers.
My event had about 70 contractors and 20 plus manufacturers and distributors, which proved to be a great mix.
Planning the Event
I began planning three months in advance. First, I contacted my local landscape contractor’s association (CLCA) and told them that I wanted to do a pond event at my home, which would demonstrate the latest and greatest in pond and fountain technology. I promised to include new innovations from Europe. The CLCA was interested, as professional associations are always looking for fresh and creative ideas to keep their constituents up to date. My second task was to contact a supplier of pond and fountain technology and ask if they would be available to bring over some of their new products and have reps on hand to answer questions. Since I asked far enough in advance to fit their schedule, they happily obliged.
In the meantime, I attended several contactor events and expos, and collected business cards from attendees and talked up my event. I assured them I would email them details of the event as they developed. I also contacted my local chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) and informed them of the event, and they posted a notice on their website. I also wrote an article for the CLCA LANDSCAPE magazine, which reminded contractors of the time and the date.
Since I was hosting the event at my place, the manufacturer supplied tons of food (Carne asada, desert, salad and sodas) to help out.
I also contacted Kloubec Koi farm to see if they would like to participate in some fashion. They sent me a box of beautiful koi, to show the contractors the high quality and low prices of their koi, first hand.
In addition to the savings available on their koi, they also offered a new program where contractors can earn money from referrals.
Kloubec Koi provided a box of “dealer cards” which we handed out to the contractors in attendance. Each card has a number, so by logging on to the web-site listed on the back of the card and registering, contractors and dealers can “Sell” fish to home-owners without ever handling the fish. It works like this: You build a pond for a homeowner. They ask “Where do you recommend I buy my koi?” You give them the Kloubec website info and your personal website Dealer ID number. When they log in and purchase koi, you get a 20% commission on the sale – Kloubec ships the koi by air directly to the customer.
As the day drew near, I knew that the manufacturers and distributors wanted to see a large crowd of contractors. I made phone calls and emailed out to all the local contractors I know in my area. I also called the press and invited them join us for a hearty BBQ and a chance to network with those of us in the trade.
A few days before the event, I went shopping for food and goodies buying enough food to feed an army. A couple of days before the event, the manufacturer’s rep sent over some help to make sure everything was looking great for the event. We installed an incredible new fountain in my swim pond, which is fashioned to look like the world famous Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, only smaller, made for the backyard.
Day of the Event
On the day of the event, I fired up the BBQ about 3:00 pm, and the meat was ready by 5:00. I got tables ready and then our guests started to arrive. Remember, if you plan on hosting an event, make sure to let your neighbors know what is planned and that parking will be scarce for the evening.
All the food was done and as attendees showed up, they ate, networked and drank to till they were quite full. As they wondered around many noted my clear swim pond. They marveled at the new quintet fountain and remarked how cool my floating vegetable garden was. That’s right, I have a floating vegetable garden in my koi pond. I planted tomatoes and lettuce and strawberries on a floating Island. I eat the food, which comes from my floating Island. The veggies love the nutrient rich pond water.
A few distributors set-up small booths with products on display, which helped add to the networking atmosphere of the night. OASE, the sponsoring company, made a small presentation on fountain technology and answered questions. When asked by landscape contractors “How does one get started in the water feature/pond business?” OASE told them about their two-day fall/winter training seminars.
At the end of the evening we gave away the koi, which was a lot of fun.
All in All
All in all, the fountain technology event turned out to be a hit. It provided an opportunity for much networking and I made sure that before it ended, I announced other upcoming events that this group would not want to miss.
Was it worth all the effort to get contractors and manufacturers and distributors together? I answer with a resounding YES. Would I do it again? Definitely! I confess I am a social butterfly and these kinds of events have helped my business tremendously. But even if you were not, I would seriously recommend having/hosting an event in your neighborhood. Who knows, you just might be writing about it in a future issue of POND Trade Magazine!