January 24, 2016

Behind the Scenes of Throwing a Killer Event

When I hosted my first event, I was 28 years old with huge dreams and no experience. I had recently discovered my true desire of having my own talk show on TV. At the same time, I had become well-versed in the skill of “acting as if.” I started studying ACIM (A Course In Miracles), started watching the secret, and even took courses with Landmark Education. All of these forms of personal development along with countless others, constantly talked about the art of claiming something before it’s even happened.

So everywhere I went, I began telling people that I was a talk show host; I walked into a room like, “this is who I am!” After a conversation with a friend, I realized that not only was starting my online magazine Bella Life a way for me to act “as if” I was already hosting, but there was one other dimension that I was leaving out: embodying being a host. And that could also include hosting events. Something I had never done before. Besides having a few girlfriends over or helping my mom entertain over the holidays, I would never consider myself a host when it came to throwing a good party.

IMG_9423But I was up for the challenge. Before I knew it, I was inviting the few friends that I knew and their friends to my girlfriends place for what I called a Colorful Conversation. I legit had no idea what to say or how to stand in front of them to lead a discussion. And I had decided to lead them through an evening of vision board creating.

It was fun. It was easy. No major stress. And just a few light bites to eat. From there, my next event was in the same location and I had invited my dear friends Sarah Jenks and Toni Lastella to speak about health and wellness. All three of us dressed in green to represent the healthy living section of my website at the time. There were about 10 girls that attended this time instead of 6. Score!

Next, I partnered with an event space and decided to host my first “big event.” I partnered with this beautiful salon on the lower east side, called Georgia. I did not charge a cent to attend and I had about 35 people including my mom, my mom’s friend, and my cousin. I remember feeling really anxious but also really supported. My mom brought in a pitcher for me to use for the drinks, and some cups and plates. And I had a friend provide some treats for free. It kind of all just came together.

IMG_9421The event thing was feeling pretty good! So I did another one at a small skincare boutique called VMV Hypoallergenics located in the heart of Union Square. I had made a habit of walking through NYC in constant discovery mode: looking for event inspiration in stores, at events, and even restaurants. Exploring the city and always internally asking the question, I wonder who I’m supposed to connect with today or I wonder if I will meet anyone I was meant to meet for my next event. And I still do this to this day.I had gone into VMV Hypoallergenics a few months prior to my event and had instantly connected with all of the staff; it was a no-brainer to do the event together. I had an incredible caterer who provided their services for free in exchange for promotion of their services. Everyone walked home with goodies from the boutique and I had over 60 guests in attendance that all got in for free.

This was the pivotal event for me. I filled a room and everyone was really happy. It made me realize how valuable this experience was for the people that attended and gave me the confidence to start charging for events going forward.

It took me over a year to get to this place of being able to charge for an event AND fill a room, because I allowed myself the space to grow organically and not put so much pressure on myself. I took thoughtful, calculated, and slow forward steps to getting to where I wanted to be. I didn’t rush, push, or force my outcomes.

I was also working a full time job in real estate as I was building my company, managing over 100 contributors for my online magazine, and producing these events. So giving myself the time to grow was a real gift to take care of myself in the process.  From my last event, I wound up meeting a company that had a lot of event space and for a couple of years I partnered with them in a really cool way. They sponsored all of my events, giving me the event space for free, providing food, and a photographer. All I had to do was create the event and get people to come.IMG_9420

During that time, I did a lot of workshops, panels, and more targeted networking events. I really enjoyed doing this because, again, I was practicing being a host. I would host these colorful conversations, lead the panels, and really embody who I wanted to be at each event. Many of these events were sold out with the biggest event being around 85 women. It was exciting, but there was still a part of me that didn’t really fully understand the network I had. That is, until I decided to throw a premiere party for the launch of my talk show, Naturally Beautiful.

The company I had been working with had just opened a new location and it could fit about 300 people. I went to check it out and absolutely loved it, but wasn’t sure how I should use the space because the most people I’d ever had at an event was 85. I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends, Ali. Where I had said to her, “Can I come over and watch my talk show when it premieres because I don’t have the channel and I want to watch it with someone?”

She looked at me puzzled and said, “No! Aren’t you going to have a party?” I looked at her and said, “No! Why would I have a party? Who’s going to come?” She started yelling at me, “Nitika what are you talking about?!! If you throw a party you’ll have 150 people there. Think about all the people on your show that would love to celebrate with you.”

I let out my nervous laughter and dismissed it. But after some thought I decided to give it a try. I figured the company was going to be sponsoring anyway. Why not see if people want to come. Fast forward a couple of months, and I had over 300 people at my premier party and somehow got 5 brand partnerships even though I had no clue what I was doing. This experience showed me not only how big my network was, but also that my community wants to party in a fun, safe, healthy way. So I think even more than wanting to celebrate my show, people were excited to get dressed up and mingle with their peers and the gurus of the wellness and beauty industries.

1375260_580001312036905_764928237_nThis wildly successful party prompted me to leverage my greatest resource: my ability to pack a room with intelligent, well-connected influencers, media and bloggers in the beauty and wellness industries. Not only that but I love it. Nothing makes me happier than looking around a room and seeing how happy everyone is. And the fact that I’m able to hold that space and create that experience for them is rewarding on a level I didn’t even know was possible.

That was the event that inspired my first Self-Love Celebration which was in February 2014. I had a completely sold out event with 200 guests in attendance. I made tens of thousands of dollars and every single partner that participated was thrilled. I took a few turns after this event trying to reinvent the wheel with creating a different experience. But by the end of the year, what I realized was this: people really loved my original Self-Love Celebration. So, I gave myself permission to not start from scratch and try to create something ground breaking every time I hosted an event.

I’m now entering year three of doing these large scale events filled with brands I’m currently crushing on. And I’ve never been more proud or excited.

I wanted to share this blog with you today because I often get asked “How do you get partners. How do you do an event like this?” I don’t have all of the answers, and I’ll be honest in saying I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. But what I can do is share my top 3 tips for creating a successful, heart centered event.

  1. Set an Intention. I know for some of you this may sound obvious, but I have to say it’s the number one reason I feel my events have always left people feeling good. Mine has always been to love everyone in the room; anytime I notice a wallflower, I introduce myself to her and help her meet amazing people in the room. Whether your intention is “I just want people to have fun” or “I want the audience to be left inspired,” or even, “it would be great if this event could create more buzz for my business”– it doesn’t matter as long as it’s pure and honest. So spend some time really meditating on that before you start producing the event.
  2. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetie). The one thing about planning an event is it can very easily become a circus. What’s made my events successful over the years is that I’ve kept them very simple. I use the same venues and I have a formula for reaching out to partners. Although my events have evolved over the years, once I found what really works, I’ve been completely focused on perfecting that. There have also been many times where people have made suggestions to me about things I should add to my events. But at the end of the day, I always find it best to keep it simple. It’s better for my mental health.
  3. Focus on Being of Service. I work with a lot of partners and, of course, want to showcase their brands in a way that is super valuable to them. However, I have a pretty strict policy around all of my sponsors focusing on one thing in particular: service. So even if you sign-up for someone’s mailing list or buy a product from their table, it’s my intention that you always leave feeling richer, whether it’s mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Have you ever been to an event where you feel like everyone is trying to get something from you or push something on you? It makes you want to scream, “Yuck!”. I’ve been to many events like that and promised myself that no one would ever leave an event of mine with that feeling. This sets my events apart.

Now you know a lot of the behind the scenes of what goes into my events. And you can also see that it wasn’t an overnight success, but a 6 year journey. I hope you’ll refer to this when creating your next event. If you still have questions please ask me anything below.

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Comments

  • cindy von dem Bussche

    Dear Nitika,
    I think you are wonderful and it is because you’re genuine. I wanted to get your advice on throwing a baby shower for a dear friend. She doesn’t like any fanfare or spending a lot on her so I’m hoping for it to feel like a blessing to her. God has given her the desires of her heart. She’s having a baby girl. I want to focus on that. But I want everyone to feel blessed when they leave. I just need a word from you. So far, I agree with your keep it simple advice. I just need a spark from you to help me make a difference in the 16 ladies and this mommy before they leave my house or wherever the shower will be.
    Thank you for any words of encouragement, lovingly,
    Cindy

    • Nitika

      Hi Cindy! So sweet of you, thanks for the kind words. I love that you are being so thoughtful about throwing a baby shower for your friend! Honestly that’s the best advice I could have given you. When you throw an event, it’s all about the details. The love is ALL in the details. While I can’t really help plan the baby shower for you through a comment (!!) I think if you stick with that, your friend will feel so loved and that’s what really matters on such an important day. Also, Pinterest is amazing for baby shower ideas!! Good luck beauty xx

  • Elizabeth

    Love this Nitika! Just reading it and seeing the gorgeous pics really inspires me. I am a holistic health blogger (elizres.com) who believes every woman deserves to feel happy, healthy and hot. I have pushed through a lot of fears to do this, and love the creative outlet it provides me, as well as the inspiration it is providing to other women. You have inspired me to create some happy, healthy and hot events! Thank you!

    • Nitika

      That’s AWESOME Elizabeth!! So glad that I provided some inspiration for you + can’t wait to see what you come up with. You can SO do this!! Lots of love xx

  • Cristina

    Nitika,

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you. I am feeling so inspired by this post. I have been racking my brain for MONTHS trying to figure out how I can get my business started. I have a strong desire to public speak and motivate women of all ages. I have been so afraid to get out there and just begin. I considered hosting events before, but I didn’t know what that could look like. I didn’t know who to invite. I didn’t know what to cover. This post has opened up my mind and heart and I am so excited to put myself out there and just get started!!

    I am currently working a full time job as a recruiter in NYC (very similar to real estate actually! #alwayshustling). I wanted to ask you at what point did you know financially that you could leave your full time job and pursue your business full time?

    Thanks so much for doing what you do.

    Sincerely,
    Cristina

    • Nitika

      Hi Cristina!!! So sorry – I some how missed responding to this until now. Thank you SO much for your sweet note, I am so excited for you and THRILLED that this post opened you up. YES!!! To answer your question, it was very logical for me when I decided to leave my full-time job. I figured out how much money I needed in order to be ok to live every month. Then, I didn’t let myself quit until I had a certain amount of money in the bank. It’s up to you what that number is, for me, I needed six months living in order to feel like I had the space to leave and create and thrive. That felt REALLY good to me. I honestly never thought I would get there, but I did and you will too. PROMISE!!!

      Hope that helps. Also, I don’t offer this to a lot of people but I do have a very select group of people that I coach on topics just like what you mentioned. Email Info@NitikaChopra.com if you want more info. Either way – I believe in you and can’t wait to see what you create for yourself!! xx

  • Ritu

    Loved this post Nitika! Thank you for breaking it all down and starting at the stage where it was still uncomfortable for you. If you ever want to host something in Toronto, let me know!
    xx Ritu

    • Nitika

      Ohhh, an event in Toronto does sound tempting!! I have been playing around with the idea of doing these events in other cities so we will see. Thanks for the love + glad this post was helpful!! xx

  • Sue

    Hi Nitika,

    I am so excited about your Self-Love celebration! I will be there and I can’t wait to meet you in person!

    I really enjoyed your description of your journey to where you are today. I think “acting as if” and small steps are key. You may not be Oprah tomorrow, but if you keep taking small steps to get there, things will align.

    Two weeks ago, I commented here that one of my dreams for 2016 was to have my own blog. I have one!! I am so excited about how it’s turned out. One of my friends has just agreed to be featured for a Q&A. Thank you so much for encouraging me!

    Love,
    Sue

    • Nitika

      Oh I can’t WAIT to meet you in person Sue!! Ummm and please send me the link to your blog!!! I want to see it!!!! This is amazing – so proud of you! Lots of love xx

      • Sue

        When I was commenting, I put it where it said Website. My name is linked, but that’s not too obvious. http://www.sue.menon.com Do tell me your reaction!

        • Nitika

          Yes yes! Sue I absolutely love this + am SO proud of you!!!!!! Can’t wait to hug you at the Self-Love Celebration next week!!!

  • Jackie Berlowski

    Hi Nitika!!

    We met in NY at the Rock Your World Event through Savor The Success. This is great timing – I was just chatting about throwing my first event and it is certainly intimidating. I figure I can cover about 25 min worth of material…but then break out and do other things? Let everyone else in the room meet? What would be your best advice for how long my first event should be while keeping it simple…and how much should it be of me talking and them engaging?

    I truly appreciate your advice!
    xoxoxo,

    Jackie

    • Nitika

      Of course Jackie I know exactly who you are sweetie!! I always like to do either 1/2 and 1/2 of social time versus lecture time or sometimes even just 30% of the time with having them focus on a lecture or discussion and the rest is more groups and social. I just think people get so much out of the community building. Have an AMAZING event I am sure it will be great!! Lots of love xxx

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