The 5 “P”s of Networking and Prospect Events

As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, in-person networking and prospect events have been added back onto the schedule at senior living communities. And for good reason: well-planned events attract new customers to your community. (If you haven’t added them back to your schedule, now is the time to start.)

While virtual events have produced mixed to positive results for the senior living communities, there is no denying that in-person events that welcome people into the communities produce greater results and strengthen reputation and community “buzz”.

As we roll into September, the time is perfect to begin planning networking and prospect events for the busy end-of-year holiday season.

Don’t know where to start? Need some inspiration? Here are the five “P”s of networking and prospect events to know to pull together in time for strong year of year results.


#1.  Plan

Events do not need to be huge parties to be considered successful. Smaller events – like holding a lunch and learn for 3 to 5 prospects or hosting the local garden club’s luncheon – can be considered a success if it results in one hot prospect that eventually moves in. A small event that produces a move-in is a successful event outcome! 

Ideally, an event is scheduled 90 days in advance so there’s time to prepare and promote, but there is still time to promote and hold successful events for fall.

Establish your objective. More on this in part #2 but knowing what you want to get out of an event – whether it’s connections with referrers or moving prospects along in their journey – is a key part of planning.

You’ll want to establish your budget and make sticking to it a priority. As we enter the last quarter, you may need to be careful in the use of the budget.

Consider pooling budgets with other departments, such as the sales and marketing budget being pooled with the activities department budget. This can provide some extra funding to make the event even more spectacular.

Another consideration is to join forces with another company or organization. Co-marketing a prospect event with a complementary business or seeking sponsorships for a networking event benefit everyone involved.

Know the holidays and plan around them. Holding your event adjacent to but not on one of the major religious celebrations will increase the attendance. Here are the 2022 dates of the year-end religious holidays:

  • Halloween: October 31
  • Thanksgiving: November 24
  • Hanukkah: December 18 – 26
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas: December 24 – 25
  • Kwanzaa December 26, 2022 – January 1, 2023


#2.  Pick Your Audience: Prospects or Referrers (or Both)

Is your event intended for prospects, current residents and their loved ones, referral sources, or some combination of all of these? (Note: Your events calendar should include some events for just prospects and others for just referrers.) Is it an open house or is it by invitation-only? Are you serving appetizers or is it a sit-down holiday dinner? Is it non-denominational or religious holiday-themed? The budget plays a part in some of these questions, so be mindful of the cost of each option as you plan.


#3.  Pull Together a Team

Who at the community is the captain of the event? The executive director, the sales director, and the activities director should all be involved, but assigning ownership to one person will improve the organizational structure, focus, and direction. Other department heads in the community that may have a role to play in the event include culinary, dining, and maintenance.

Assign responsibilities for:

Decorating: Add a warm and personal touch to the event by supplementing the community’s holiday decorations with handmade decorations, gifts, and signs made by the residents. Not only are they great activities for the residents to work on but they help the budget.

Food and beverages: It’s key to involve the culinary team early on so they can deliver on food and beverage planning, preparation, and serving.

Entertainment: Live holiday music contributes to the warm and welcoming feel of the event. Some options include enlisting the community’s favorite piano or guitar player who regularly entertains the residents; or inviting a local student choir or instrument ensemble. Entertainment talent books up early so schedule them now!

Set-up and clean-up: Who will be responsible for setting up before and cleaning up after the event? Keep this in mind as you plan the event so that ample staff is scheduled to be on hand.


#4.  Promote

What’s your game plan for letting your invitees or the public know about your event? What tools are at your disposal? Here are some possibilities:

  • Schedule posts on your community’s Facebook page
  • Include a story in your monthly e-newsletter
  • Send out event-specific email blasts with an RSVP included
  • Hand out event announcement flyers
  • Deliver personal invitations to prospects or referrers
  • Make an invitation to the event the purpose of a prospect or referrer call
  • Send Sales Mail or One Day video e-blast invitations

Keep in mind that people need to feel invited. A mass posting won’t drive traffic nearly as much as an invitation that feels personal. Plan to personally call every event attendee within 72 hours before the event. Remember to track all event activity in your CRM!


#5.  Perform the Post-Event Protocol

After your event, plan to track all the leads through to move in. This is critical to determining your event’s Return on Investment (ROI). ROI is the relationship between how much your event cost (the investment), and how many move-ins resulted from it.

Get the most marketing value out of any pictures and videos you and your staff took at the event by posting them to social media. Write personal thank you notes to attendees and send them out within a few days of the event.


Hopefully these 5 “P”s of networking and prospect events encourages you to begin planning your events for the busy end-of-year holiday season! We love to hear about successful events, so drop us a line and let us know what works for you!

Ready to take your senior living sales success to a new level by elevating your executive directors to community sales leaders? Grow Your Occupancy provides the sales coaching, accountability coaching, and sales-skill coaching essential to fill that important role. Learn more about Grow Your Occupancy’s sales coaching and training here. Or book your free 30-minute consultation today.

6 Steps for Successful Marketing Event Planning

Marketing events are a goldmine for attracting both highly motivated prospects and referral sources to your senior living community. If you don’t have an active calendar of marketing events in your sales toolkit, you’re missing out!

Planning and executing effective marketing events doesn’t require a small army of event planners and staff. These 6 steps will help you successfully plan your next marketing event.

  1. Think Small. An effective marketing event doesn’t need to a) be elaborate, and b) draw a massive crowd. Coming out of the pandemic, many people are still shy when it comes to large crowds, so small group events will still draw attendees. Events like lunch n’ learns, educational speakers, art classes, cooking demos, outdoor gatherings, etc. are in this small event category. Promote the fact that it’s a small event by promoting the intimacy, i.e. don’t be afraid to say that space is extremely limited.
  2. Plan Ahead. Last-minute events typically aren’t successful. Why? First, just about every event has a lot of moving pieces, many of which have lead time involved. Second, prospects and professional referral sources need some advance notice get it on their calendar. Don’t go overboard though, 2-3 weeks is sweet spot between the time they are invited to the date of the event.
  3. Hold Events Outside. Whenever possible, take advantage of fresh air and the beauty of the warmer months to bring people together outdoors. Have a back-up plan in place for rain/weather contingencies though. For example, be ready to pivot to a drive through grab-and-go event in which the hors d’oeuvres you were going to serve are now bagged take-out style!
  4. Bring the Event to Those Who Can’t Attend. Do you have a few folks who expressed interest but cannot attend due to a conflict or other reason? Offer to record the presentation, deliver the meal, enter them for a chance to win a door prize, etc. Did someone RSVP but not show up? Give them the same service!
  5. Extend Invitations Personally. Don’t rely on postcards, social media posts, or mass emails only. People respond much better to a personal invitation. Invite prospects and referral sources in person or by phone calls (leaving a voice mail counts) first, then follow up with video message, email, or text.
  6. Text a Reminder. We all have forgotten about an event that we said we would attend. Want to boost attendance to your event? Text a reminder to your RSVPs the day before the event.

Finally, as I’m writing this article in August, the time to be planning your fall and holiday events is NOW! Don’t let the prime opportunity to hold an open house, giftwrapping party, after-5 mixer, canned goods or toy drive event, or other seasonal networking event go by – use our 6 steps above and start planning your upcoming events today.

Ready to take your senior living sales success to a new level by elevating your executive directors to community sales leaders? Grow Your Occupancy provides the sales coaching, accountability coaching, and sales-skill coaching essential to fill that important role. Learn more about Grow Your Occupancy’s sales coaching and training here. Or book your free 30-minute consultation today.