We had a HUGE success with our first Networking After Hours, inspired by Josh Dorkin and Kevin Amolsch of BiggerPockets

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Our first networking event was a SMASH HIT! Over 225 people attended, and blew all our expectations away!

Months and months ago, @Joshua Dorkin and I were talking about the challenges of creating events that did not include selling speakers. He referred me to @Kevin Amolsch , who hosts free networking events in his area. Kevin and I chatted, he was very helpful, and I brought the concept to my local partners.

We decided to follow that model of free networking events, and started creating the Black Diamond Real Estate Investors starting with our first meeting in Waltham, Ma. Our launch was Tuesday night, and having some experience with lowered attendance and lack of interest in conventional REIA's, I was hoping to top 100 people, because of our commitment to no selling speakers, similar to the Bigger Pockets model of no selling speakers at the Summit.

We were totally blown away when we went over 200 people, stopped counting at 223, because it was so busy, and were thrilled to hear the overwhelmingly positive feedback. One of my partners says we had over 250!

And for the icing on the cake, I had people stop me and tell me they came because of Bigger Pockets! Woohoo! In our planning stages, we had decided to promote BP because of the similarly aligned concepts in networking and education.

So thank you, Josh and Kevin, and thanks to those BP'ers who came to our launch, hope to see you at many more! We have plans to add a second event in Worcester, Ma as well.

That's great news, @Ann Bellamy ! I'm glad that you were able to step up and put on a great event without subjecting your attendees to the typical sales pitch nonsense. Your massive success clearly demonstrates that there is a need for these kinds of events.

Keep us in the loop with how things progress, and of course, feel free to let your users know that they have a home online right here at BP.

Congratulations Ann,
I wish someone from my local REIA meetings will read you story. Am really getting sick of the sales pitch. All the speakers always have something to sell!
Good luck
Tracey.

Thank all for your kind comments.

@Raymond B. , our next event is Tues Oct 23, at the same location. You can go to my website and find a link to events, and I'll have the next topic posted within a couple of days. Our speaker will be Meghan Grugnale, a real estate attorney licensed in MA and NH, and some other states as well. She'll be talking some real-life "House Buying Horrors" in time for Halloween. She's really interesting to hear, and will have anecdotal references and how to protect yourself from these issues.

Lots of good networking too!!

@Tracey Williams , I know some of the folks who run the Ohio REIA's. A full-blown REIA is very expensive to run, I know from experience, and it costs a lot to rent hotel space. So the only way they meet costs is to take commission from sales. I feel your pain, I ran a conventional REIA but was kind of sick of the whole sales thing myself, even though that's how we made our operating budget.

It takes a lot of work to find a venue willing to give you free space, that is located appropriately, and that is large enough. There are always trade offs. But I guess our attendees felt it was worth it. And even we have costs involved, which are coming out of our own pockets.

You might consider starting your own - you have a couple of people already doing it to give you some pointers if you do!

My REIA group is having it's first informal "brainstorming" lunch this week. I am excited that we are going to have these types of meetings in addition to the regular monthly meeting. I think they are a great idea.

I just loved hearing that you had a free no-sell networking/educational event that was so well attended! So exciting. Free space (and available parking) for 250 is quite an accomplishment. Did you get any feedback from the venue about how they came out? Did attendees buy meals and/or drinks? I know this was the first meeting and repeat attendees can plan next time to eat dinner before, etc.

This was really inspiring and makes me wonder what can be put together in my area.

@Account Closed ,

We didn't expect that many and had hoped for 100 - 125. So 250 was a shock! It was super-crowded, so we will be planning on rearranging the seating.

Because our host is a restaurant and is slow on a Tuesday, we did considerable marketing encouraging people to join us for food and drink. It worked so well that the owner is very, very happy. We don't have numbers from him yet but will have them Monday.

He was happy enough that he's figuring out how to get us upgraded sound equipment for our next meeting. :-)

I think the key, besides "free" and "no-selling" which was important, was three-fold:
1. The four people heading up the group are local investors, including myself, who are in the market doing. Two of us are pretty well known.The other two are solid guys with 6-10 deals going at once.
2. Our mailing list put together from the four of us is HUGE.
3. Good restaurant in a central location.

@Ann Bellamy - some ideas to help defray costs without getting into sell-a-thon or sell-inar type speakers.

1. Memberships - that's a no brainer.

2. Sponsorships. Allow various real estate related trades to submit a flyer advertising their wares in exchange for some dollars toward costs. Flyers can either be distributed, or placed near the entrances.

3. Sell recordings of the previous speakers on CD for a nominal amount. Although this might initially sound like it "breaks" the no selling concept, it is just selling the events that have been presented. Something like $10 and specify that proceeds support the ongoing events that you will be holding.

Thanks @Steve Babiak , those are good suggestions. We think we're going to see how it plays out for a few months before making any changes.

Launch is always exciting and everyone wants to be part of it, so we think attendance will drop to a more manageable number between 100-150. Which is still significant and creates great networking.

At least create audio recordings of the live speakers, so that in the event you have some feedback indicating that the attendees might want to buy a CD, you at least can produce those.

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