Ask every attendee the main reason they travel to conferences and events and most will tell you it’s for the networking opportunities. In fact, according to a Forbes Insights survey, 85% of people said they build stronger and more meaningful relationships when they have face-to-face interactions. As event planners, we have to make sure we make it as easy as possible for attendees to mingle and connect with one another.
With this in mind…
5 Networking Ideas for Your Next Event
Networking Ideas for Your Next Event to Promote Valuable Connections
Networking Idea #1: Leverage Technology
There is a world of technology out there that can be used to help your audience members connect. For example, the C2 Montreal conference used R.F.I.D. technology to alert attendees when they were in close proximity to someone they had a lot in common with. Before the event the organizers had attendees complete an online profile with facts about themselves and also things they hoped to get out of the event. The system then created matches, much like a dating website. During their event, over 1,700 meetings took place.
Another example of using technology to connect people is by use of a “smart badge.” For their Startup Career Fair in 2016, Northwestern University used a company called Proxfinity to facilitate seamless networking.
Business owners that were looking to specifically connect with undergraduate, graduate or MBA students about job opportunities were matched using Proxfinity’s Smart Badge. As an example, the founder of Circle Sponge was visually connected through these smart badges to students with a background in data science.
If you haven’t been using technology to help your attendees connect with one another, 2021 is the year to begin leveraging this incredible potential.
Networking Idea #2: Create Smaller Groups
It’s hard for people to network with one another when your venue is full of hundreds of people. When we plan events for our clients, we always make sure to create smaller, more intimate groups of people to help facilitate networking. These groups can stay at the main event and take part in a specific breakout session, or they can even be taken to a restaurant for a hosted dinner. Get creative.
Networking Idea #3: Create the Right Atmosphere
It’s important to create spaces where attendees can chill out and get to know one another. A large portion of your venue will be dedicated to giving your speakers a platform to share their educational information. But make sure to also create spaces where people can gather, chill out, and have a conversation. For example, you might want to have some food stations with nearby seating areas where people can take a break and connect.
Networking Idea #4: Gamify Networking
It’s not easy for many people to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. The best way around this is to help people have fun and break the ice. When you gamify your networking, it takes the pressure off of your attendees and helps them open up with one another. Some fun ice breaker games are a scavenger hunt, human bingo, and two truths and a lie. Want to really engage your entire audience? Use live polls during your games to get everyone’s attention.
Networking Idea #5: Speed Networking
Speed networking has become very popular at corporate events and for good reason: it is a quick and efficient way for your attendees to meet the most amount of people in a short amount of time and have fun doing it. Within an hour, your attendees can make dozens of new important connections.
Networking is by far the number one reason people attend events, so it’s important you do everything you can to help your attendees connect. If you start to incorporate these 5 networking ideas, you’ll help your audience build strong and lasting relationships.
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