Networking Events: Do they work?
Networking events have become a staple to many event agendas, ranging from conferences to Gala Dinners, to Association events. Many people attend events with the intention of meeting other people and starting conversations that could eventually lead to business or personal opportunities. One of the key factors that have guided the rise of networking is the relationship value face to face interactions have.
A recent study stated 85% build stronger, more meaningful business relationships as a result of in-person meetings and conferences.
What can you do to maximize the value of networking?
As an Attendee and Networker:
Take advantage of networking sessions. Try to arrive a few minutes early to become comfortable with the event space. When you are attending networking sessions, be open to speaking to someone new, in-fact seek them out. If you are going to the event with some work colleagues, try to avoid grouping with them throughout the entire event. Networking events are great opportunities to attend alone and meet new people when you get there.
If you are not interpersonal by nature or are more comfortable networking virtually there are some great solutions that event organizers are making available to help you meet other attendees before the event, and even schedule conversations ahead of time. It is a great practice to track where your connections came from, where they started, and where they end up. If you keep track of that process, it allows for you to do it again and potentially grow your results.
As a Planner:
Support and measure networking.
You put a lot of effort into organizing an event that allows your attendees to connect with each other and you provide them opportunities to have meaningful conversations that benefit them personally and professionally. Based on your scope, collaboration may be a nice to have or a mandate for your events’ key objectives. For example, if you are having a market development conference, it becomes imperative that your stakeholders are able to connect and collaborate with other attendees to support the evolution of their industry.
Help your attendees quantify the connections they make so they better understand the value networking provides, and so that they remember how your networking event helped them to close an opportunity; be it a new business deal, contract, referral, or even career opportunity. Encourage your attendees to keep track of that. Keep in touch with them long after the event so you can measure and prove ROI to your attendees, alumni, and your organization.
Give your attendee’s options.
For some, traditional face to face networking can be daunting. If you incorporate other ways, and methods for your attendees to engage and connect with each other, you allow them to become more comfortable in an environment that is easy for them; resulting in more connections and better attendee value. There are some great event technologies available where attendees can see who else will be at the conference and schedule conversations or coffee break meetings before they even arrive. There are event technologies where you can create private social networks – specific to your event where attendees can form dialogue topics and have conversations within the application.
You can incentivize and incorporate fun ways where your attendees can have a great time, make connections and network. A great way to do that is to build themed hot spots throughout your event that allow attendees to interact with different activities and become comfortable to network in a creative environment. Click here to take a look at some creative ways The EVENT Ottawa put together ingenious activities that facilitated networking connections and innovative discussions.
Continue the Connections.
Think about what happens after your networking event, how you can expand the connections long after the event has concluded, and how you can support your attendees so they always attend your networking events.
To start a discussion on how you can bring creativity and create connections throughout your attendees Contact us now.