Networking opportunities

7 innovative ways to create more networking opportunities at your event

Networking opportunities at events should never be left to chance. The opportunity to networking and community building with someone influential is a huge incentive for registrants, and smart event planners are well aware of it. They actively facilitate one-on-one networking opportunities between attendees. It’s a great way to make your attendees feel productive while they are out from the office.

Meetings and event planners are getting innovative to encourage networking. From shared picnic baskets to fortune cookies containing conversation ice breakers, planners are helping attendees make the most out of their events. Read my top seven ways to let loose a group dynamic and let people interact with each other in a corporate or business setting.

Create an online community

Improve networking at your events by building an online community that allows registrants to connect before, during and even after the event. Choose from different service providers and launch the community two-three months before your event. This will give your attendees the time they need to get acquainted and connect with others. To facilitate participation, work with sponsors to organize a prize for the maximum level of participation. You can also recruit sponsors and exhibitors to drive engagement by asking them to join the community well before the event is launched.

Simple name badges work

It might sound obvious, but keeping easy-to-read name badges works the best. It helps facilitate comfortable, natural introductions that leave a positive first impression. After all, it can become very awkward if you have to lean in or squint to read the name or job titles on the name badges of other attendants. Remove big ads on badges and save that real estate for simple details or information that initiates conversations likes company name, job title, city, etc.

Add networking-focused activities

Make sure your event’s format is optimized in a way that helps registrants, influencers and peers network with each other. Help attendees to create new connections by mixing them with one another in ice-breaker activities. Creating contests like scavenger hunt is always a smart way to do this, as it requires people to team up and collaborate.

Include table rotation for longer sessions

You can foster networking amongst attendees by including a table change at the mid-break point of longer sessions. You can do this by including a card that has the new table number in your attendees’ conference material. This way they’ll know which table to return to after the break is over. Including table rotations requires a little co-ordination, but it is well worth trying.

Allow attendees to discuss key topics

During lunch, invite attendees to discuss important topics with industry influencers or experts in small groups. You can also put a sign or question on each table that resonates with the theme of your event. Appealing to the interests of your attendees will enable them to network with others and enjoy themselves.

Keep networking in mind while creating breakout areas

Break out areas such as coffee and tea stations play an instrumental role in facilitating networking as attendees naturally seek breaks during events. Factors such as the size, placement and attractiveness of these breakout places determine how easy it is to initiate or leave a conversation. Try to book venues that facilitate the movement of people as constricted places provide fewer networking opportunities. Some tips to make your breakout areas attractive: place small cocktail tables for attendees to have a “round table” discussion. The same tip also applies for lunch areas as people make a stronger connection while facing each other.

Choose a socially enabled event mobile app

If you plan to have an event mobile app, then ensure that it provides matchmaking opportunities for registrants. Matchmaking will allow attendees to contact each other based on common interest long before the event begins. Event apps with social media integration, location-based check-ins, and an activity feed are a must have for event planners. These features will allow registrants to prioritize who they meet and to maximize networking opportunities. Take advantage of technology by displaying ice-breaker questions across your venue and ask registrants to answer them through social media using a common hashtag.

Final words

Live event is a great way for you to increase leads and brand awareness. At the same time, you need to make your attendees feel productive by giving them ample networking opportunities. You can easily promote networking by creating niche environments for one-on-one interactions, organizing networking-focused activities or by giving ice-breaker conversation initiators. These techniques will help people communicate and connect with one another and enhance the overall attendee experience at your events.

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