For many professionals, business executives, and people looking to jumpstart their careers, the real reason to join events such as a conferences or trade shows is to network with existing partners and make new connections with people such as influencers, potential startup co-founders, as well as employers. And even those who don’t necessarily join events with the purpose of networking are sure to understand the value it offers.
Below are a few ways to add networking opportunities into your next event:
1. Use an Event App with Social Features
Event apps and other tech solutions with integrated social networking features offer the potential of helping attendees connect with each other. For example, an app with LinkedIn integration can give attendees a number of valuable insights on your event, such as:
• Key influencers slated to join your event
• Companies and organizations represented by participants
• Unique opportunities offered by attendees
This kind of information can help attendees zero in on who they’d like to connect with, and even start networking before the event and after it.
2. Incorporate Activities Designed for Networking into Your Events
Traditional events such as conferences and expos can provide higher levels of engagement and satisfaction for event-goers if organizers dedicate segments of the program to attendee networking.
For example: adopting speed dating or seat swap activities—with attendees segregated with matchmaking data based on their interests, disciplines, or job seniority—can help form unusual connections between people who may normally be on opposing ends of the spectrum. With activities like this, everyone wins and goes home having had a better time.
3. Make the Event About Networking Itself
Make your event different and generate interest among people looking to network by making its theme about networking itself. Although it may seem like an event of this kind has benefits focused on attendees, it can go beyond that.
For example: with reverse career fairs and workshops, recruiters can ask more insightful questions when interacting with potential candidates, something harder to do in traditional job fairs where event goals are different.
4. Provide an Online Space for Event Attendees
Don’t settle for helping people network at your event. Increase the possibilities for networking by creating an online space for attendees—e.g. an online forum or even a closed Facebook group—to help them make connections before and long after the actual event. Connections are only effective if there’s a reliable way to follow-up on them, and that’s exactly what setting up an online community helps you do.
5. Create Spaces for Networking
Areas like coffee stations and charging stations are natural magnets for idle people, so take advantage and turn them into networking spaces as well. Little things such as the placement and size of these areas can have an effect on the ease of starting a conversation, so be sure to think of human interaction when designing these spaces.
6. Offer Options for Flexible Scheduling
Networking with people doesn’t have to be done on a clock, something that can turn off people who don’t want to be forced into interactions. Offering options for a flexible networking schedule lets your attendees network at their own pace and time, which—let’s face it—is better than not networking at all.
Such options can be offered via appointment setting features on apps and other software. Even something as exchanging QR codes and business cards helps to lock down later dates for networking.
Event organizers who want to keep up with technology and the ease of building networks online should provide an event experience that offers real value to participants. As event organizers, it’s important to integrate networking opportunities into your events to drive attendee engagement. In turn, this improves your brand value as an organizer and helps boost attendance at your next event.
Curious how you can take networking to the next level at your next event? Hosted buying can be a great way to help attendees meet and do business. Snag our free guide to hosted buyer events today.
Written by Tabitha Naylor