The prospect of planning a business event can trigger a lot of anxiety in an event planner. After all, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many different types of events you can choose from. And yet, each event type plays an important role in a company’s event marketing strategy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to make that choice alone. We’ve compiled a list of eight types of events to make sure you start off in the right direction. No matter your business goals, there’s a strong probability that one of these choices will send you, your sponsors, and your attendees home happy.

8 types of events to get you started

Generally speaking, a business event can be either internal or external. Each category functions a bit differently, which is why it’s important to know their distinctions.

An internal corporate event is generally a private event involving employees, clients, and partners, such as a company-wide business meeting. On the other hand, external events are public-facing and focused more on customer service and experience, since most attendees are likely part of the company’s target audience. 

Beneath these two umbrellas are many types of events that each march to the beat of their own drum. Chances are that you’ve seen many of them before. That said, even an experienced event planner has a hard time picking the right event type for their company’s specific needs. Let’s take a look at each one and how they can help you meet your business goals and objectives.

1. Conferences

Speaker giving a talk in conference hall at business event

A conference is typically a large-scale event that revolves around a central theme, topic, or industry. They are often held over multiple days—three on average, according to American Express—and include special activities, guest speakers, exhibitions, and networking opportunities. 

This type of special event is a great way to achieve a swarm of potential business goals, such as brand awareness, lead generation, and thought leadership. Conferences are unique in that they can serve all of these goals simultaneously, depending on the contents and activities that take place. In short, they help attendees learn about, interact with, and understand your business and its brand.

Need an example? Check out how WebexOne hosted a next-level collaboration conference.

2. Trade shows

A trade show invites many different companies of a specific industry to showcase their products and services to the general public. The focus of a trade show is to exhibit the latest products to your target audience and generate brand interest. By allowing your target audience to interact with your brand, you have the chance to create memorable experiences and leave a lasting impression.

This event type can be a small, simple event with just a few vendors, or it can include thousands of businesses exhibiting in the same venue. Either way, trade shows are a great way to increase brand awareness, build contact lists, and generate sales pipeline—a key metric that 94% of event organizers use to measure success, according to Markletic.

3. Networking events

When a person attends an event, one of their biggest objectives is to make connections. That’s exactly what a networking event aims to facilitate. Simply put, a networking event is an organized opportunity for attendees to meet new people and build their contact lists.

This particular type of event is especially useful for sowing the seeds of future partnerships and business relationships. For instance, networking can help you recruit new talent to your brand or even lay the groundwork for a sponsorship at a future event.

4. Workshops

Audience listens lecturer at workshop

Workshops offer a “hands-on” alternative to sitting in an event space listening to a guest speaker or participating in a roundtable. They’re a great way to liven up the festivities and give people a chance to learn a new skill. A workshop can be an independent event in and of itself, or it can be a complimentary event to a conference or trade show.

These highly interactive sessions offer attendees an educational experience. But at the same time, they can network with fellow participants and foster an interest in the skill, topic, or theme in question.

To help you out, here are eight useful tips for organizing a workshop event.

5. Team building events

A team building event is an internal corporate event that invites employees to spend quality time together bonding and working toward a common goal. What’s great about team building is that it can come in all shapes and sizes: competitions, seminars, presentations, and even mental challenges.

This business event not only fosters teamwork and collaboration but also rewards employees for their hard work with much-needed fun and relaxation. Team building goes a long way toward talent retention and acquisition, which is why they’re such a popular choice among business leaders.

6. Product launch events

A product launch is just as it sounds; a chance to debut a new product or service to the public. They help spread the word and generate buzz around a new brand, partnership, or offering by inviting attendees to experience it first-hand. 

Product launch events are effective at driving sales and improving company recognition. Also, they’re great for connecting with your target audience and fostering long-term brand relationships.

7. Charity events

Weekend festival defocused

Charity events invite attendees to help raise funds for a particular good cause. They can be organized in nearly any fashion, such as a gala, competition, auction, marathon, or concert.

Hosting a fundraising event can help your company attach its name to a charitable cause and generate a positive brand image. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to come together and do something truly good for the world. Plus, you get to have plenty of fun along the way!

8. Internal corporate events

An internal corporate event is any event hosted by a company for its employees, stakeholders, or board members. Examples of corporate internal events include town halls, team-building events, holiday parties, sales meetings, and board meetings.

These can serve as a way to help your employees engage with each other and align themselves with business goals and values. They can also serve as a way to share information and prove ROI to your stakeholders and investors.

Choosing the right type of event

When it comes to deciding on the direction you’d like to take for your next event, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  • Format: How will attendees experience the event? Will it be in-person, virtual, or hybrid? If planning a hybrid or virtual event, be sure that remote audiences will enjoy their experience just the same as if they were physically in the event space.
  • Goals: Many types of events serve more than one purpose, but not all of them will align with your specific objectives. Make sure you choose one that speaks to your business goals.
  • Budget: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Select an event type that’s realistic for your budget so that you increase the probability of success.

You’ve chosen your type of event. Now what?

Selecting your event is just the first step in the planning process. Next, you’ll encounter a whirlwind of decisions that each need to be carefully considered (and planned down to the last detail).

That’s why it’s best to have event technology on your side. Here’s how an event management platform like Webex Events can start your journey on the right foot:

  • Audience engagement: No matter your chosen type or format, engagement will make or break your event. Event management software offers interactive tools and gamification features that take activities to the next level and create immersive experiences from start to finish.
  • Networking: Make it easy for attendees to connect with one another using attendee profiles, breakout rooms, and direct messaging—all within a branded mobile event app.
  • Customization: Tailor your software to your specific brand to deliver a cohesive experience. Customize everything from your registration page down to your event app and more.

That’s the power of event technology. Get started for free to see how Webex Events can kick-start your event planning process.