We typically run breakfast seminars and have run general business seminars. We hosted a video seminar by Jim Collins for example, on one occasion. As well we have had topical breakfasts focused on using technology better at a business owners level - leveraging your intellectual property to sell your products, becoming an online expert in your field and understanding changes in telecommunications for instance.
We originally aimed to have one every two months, and plan to do them again this year - but we got really busy and the effort to plan and run the seminars plus some staff changes meant it dropped off the radar for a while.
We tend to bring in speakers. This worked better than using our own staff, unless they had an established reputation already. We do them to develop a reputation for giving good advice mainly so for brand positioning reasons I guess you could say, but we are hoping to follow up with opportunities to assist people afterwards.
We invite business owners, CEOs or MDs of small to mid-sized businesses and the feedback has been very good to date.
We don't get business from these events directly, but strong relationships built up over time have helped us in later sales work.
Make sure the topic is relevant, ensure the speaker is really knowledgeable and not trying to push a specific product.The key is to give out relevant and useful information with no hooks if you want to build a genuine reputation as a trusted advisor.
There are plenty of examples where SMEs in the same sector or the same location have joined forces to make a bigger splash locally or internationally. Tell us your experiences.