When attending events, many individuals have a clear goal in mind – to engage in business networking and establish valuable contacts. Engaging in networking activities at events can actually yield various benefits, such as expanding one's business, discovering new career opportunities, and unlocking doors to a plethora of prospects.
As the event host, it’s your job to actively encourage networking between your attendees. You can do this by creating a strategy to help support your attendees as they navigate the room and get to know one another. A lot of attendees might find it challenging to approach others at these kinds of events, oftentimes feeling out of place and overwhelmed. So, to help all your attendees, use your knowledge as a host to share insights and make relevant connections to help your guests when they’re mingling. Small gestures like linking potential collaborations and providing valuable resources for your attendees to utilise can aid your event massively.
These are just some of the basic steps that you can take when it comes to boosting networking at your event. So we’ve compiled practical advice that will transform your event into a dynamic business networking hub filled with enjoyment!
Creating an Optimal Environment
To enhance networking opportunities, it is important to set clear expectations for your event attendees. This can be done by informing them about the various networking options available and highlighting the advantages. Utilising event app or channels such as email or social media can be effective in communicating this information ahead of time. Additionally, don't forget to provide details about the audience they can expect to interact with.
Some attendees might also want to be able to “log on” during the event, so have a section available for them to plug in their laptops and get to work. Promoting VIP speakers, special sponsors, and other partners can serve as a motivation for attendees to actively participate in the networking sessions. Even something as small as having an appealing refreshments table gives your attendees a natural gathering space to share ideas.
Another key component to boosting networking at your event is to have engaging and interactive activities available that your attendees can take part in. Here are some activity ideas that you can use at your next event:
Speed networking consists of meeting as many people as possible in a limited amount of time. Set up two rows of chairs facing each other and explain the rules. Give each round a time limit (usually one minute) and ask a question or present an issue to discuss. Instruct one group to move on to the next person when the time is up. For virtual events, use breakout rooms to create smaller discussion groups.
Moderated questions are an easy way to start conversations among attendees. Ask questions such as "What led you to the event?" or "What has been your biggest mistake?" to stimulate discussion.
A pub quiz is another way to promote connection. Prepare questions beforehand that relate to the event or are general knowledge. Let the attendees form teams based on common interests.
Workshops are also a great way to foster interaction. Choose a topic related to the event such as evaluating an organization or forming leadership guidelines. This will give attendees a shared goal and help them get to know each other.
“Have you met Ted?”
"Have you met Ted?" (Fans of the show How I Met Your Mother will understand). Attendees often need help making the first introduction. Talk to them during breaks to learn who they would like to meet then help make the introduction.
Prepare Sufficient Networking Resources
Sufficient resources are your best friend when it comes to boosting networking. The more resources you have, the easier your job as host becomes.
One resource you may want to consider is an event host or greeter. Having someone to take the pressure off greeting guests or guiding the event leaves you to circulate and help your attendees to make key connections - thus boosting networking at your event. It’s important, when choosing the perfect candidate to act as your greeter or host, to ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of the attendees and the overall aim of the event so that they too can help make necessary connections.
Another thing you might consider are networking facilitators who can lead group discussions. This enables attendees who are interested in hearing the same talks or discussions to spend time with other attendees and network naturally.
Utilise an Event App
And last but not least, organising an event can be made easier and more efficient with the use of an Event App. These apps have a variety of features that can be beneficial to attendees, such as an event agenda, push-notifications, live questions, polls, and other on-site management and engagement tools.
An app also allows those attendees who may be more shy than others to connect online before an event, so that there can be a familiar name or face by the time they come to the day of the event.
In-person events can be further enhanced by the utilisation of these apps, while at virtual events, they are a necessity as they provide the infrastructure for live streaming. Additionally, certain apps are capable of accommodating hybrid events by connecting in-person and virtual attendees. That’s where Eventee comes in.
There are lots of apps for events, but Eventee has a unique advantage when it comes to networking: attendees can only be connected with people interested in meeting them. This approach is similar to Tinder in that people first fill out a profile card, then go through the stack of other cards and swipe right to meet or left to pass. Once a match is made, attendees can chat, video/audio call, or arrange meetings within the app. Additionally, it is possible to display or hide virtual event features, making Eventee appropriate for any type of event, whether it is in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
In conclusion, when it comes to boosting networking at your event, preparation is key. Before your event, do some research and identify the types of people who are attending. Share these details with the rest of your team. Additionally, make sure you have sufficient networking resources. Last but not least is being able to make the most of your event by actively participating in the activities that are offered. This can be done by asking questions to the speakers, participating in the speed networking sessions, and as much as possible, mingling and making your own connections as well as making necessary introductions to help your attendees too.
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