There’s an old saying: It’s not what you know. It’s who you know. So, aside from giving your attendees a great experience through immersive event technology, engaging booths, and reputable keynote speakers, it’s also necessary to provide networking opportunities.
In fact, among those attending corporate events, 82% of attendees said that networking is their top priority:
This comes as no surprise given the many benefits of networking for professional and business growth:
- 85% of jobs are filled through networking
- 95% agree that networking builds long-term and meaningful business relationships
- Those who network actively believe they will lose 28% of their business without networking
When attendees leave your events, they will be asking themselves: “How many meaningful connections did I make today?” Your participants will be measuring your event against this and it will influence whether they will be attending your future events, meetings, and conferences.
How do you help facilitate networking in your events? Here are 5 tips:
1. Create Buzz with a Pre-event Online Community
The key to successful networking is to start connecting like-minded participants with each other as early as possible. Ideally, they should be able to identify networking opportunities right after registering for your event.
Creating a gated online community in which participants instantly gain access after event registration is a great way to jumpstart networking days or even weeks prior to your event. Your pre-event online community should be conducive enough for registrants to start conversations with each other. You can also incorporate your pre-event community into your event app for convenience and easier access. Aside from leveraging on networking, this will also help drum up excitement for the event itself, thereby increasing show up rate.
2. Develop a Well Thought Out Networking Strategy
While there are many lasting business connections that were made out of sheer serendipity, attendees will definitely appreciate it if you implement a well-orchestrated plan so they can meet the right people during your event.
Utilizing an event networking platform can help with this. Small breakout sessions can be organized for attendees to join, get help organizing their schedule by allocating time blocks to meet certain people, and create more intimate face time with exhibitors and resource speakers.
3. Utilize Digital Badges
According to best-selling author Kevin Daum: “When you are networking, you are looking to connect with those who can help you. They might be customers, connectors, mentors, or other people of value to your business. But not everyone in the room is worth your time. You want to build a relationship with those who are. And business cards rarely get that relationship started.”
In lieu of traditional paper business cards, modern digital badges can be used. With a push of a button, your attendees can exchange contact information making networking easier (and honestly, more fun!). These digital badges can easily connect with your mobile event app to create a holistic event technology experience.
Plus, smart badges are often equipped with technology that allows for capturing important event data such as most visited booths, most engaging exhibitors, etc.
4. Explore Creative Networking Activities
If you think your event attendees have a penchant for less formal networking activities, then exploring more creative and playful tactics can be an effective networking strategy. For example, speed networking is growing in popularity and allows even the most reserved participants to form meaningful connections during your event. Just like speed dating, each participant spends a limited amount of time with each participant. Of course, the necessary pre-event due diligence is required to ensure this activity is organized so that like-minded participants are in the same sessions. Digital badges can also be used to easily exchange contact details.
Other creative networking activities include human bingo, competitive networking (e.g. whoever acquired the most number of new connections wins a prize), and conditional discounting from exhibitors.
5. Establish Networking-Conducive Spaces
Many of your events will not solely be focused on networking, especially your non-corporate events. The key is to create networking-conducive spaces and pocket networking activities that serve as complementary side events to your main event.
Some ideas include:
- Networking hubs. Transform common spaces like coffee stands, lounges, snack bars, etc. into networking corners.
- Pre-event kick off for new attendees. This is especially beneficial for recurring events with repeat attendees. To prevent first-timers from feeling left out, organize a pre-event kick off for them.
- Big idea wall. Setting up a freedom wall, a big idea wall or a solutions wall allows attendees to share their thoughts together with their contact information for all the other attendees to see.
Matches Made in Heaven
Great event planners are effective network builders. While your event attendees also control the results of their networking efforts during your event, it falls on your shoulders to create an event strategy and facilitate activities that will make it easier for participants to connect with the right people, at the right time. With the correct use of thoughtful strategies, creative thinking, and technology such as an event management platform, your next event can be a networking mecca for attendees.
Aventri (formerly etouches) has helped thousands of brands globally transform the way they plan and execute their meetings and events, while tracking and improving their business objectives. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates on our fresh content.