Networking is an important function behind events, and sometimes even the primary function. Many people attend events, particularly industry related events, so as to meet people and be met in turn.
That’s why the success or failure of your event can very likely be determined by how well your attendees were able to network with one another. If people find many card-swapping opportunities at your event, you can be sure they will keep coming back for more.
Understand that people interact differently
It’s key to understand that not everyone goes about networking in the same way. The confident, outgoing and extroverted will find ways to connect with others no matter what. Others need a bit of help to get the ball rolling. Some prefer to connect one on one, and some like to first get to know someone on a more personal level over a drink before broaching business.
Smooth over networking at your event by catering to different temperaments.
Interspersing your event with scheduled social time is advisable. A welcoming dinner, a meet-and-greet breakfast, and coffee breaks during the day allow for the chance to meet people. Try and create a comfortable atmosphere. In the evening, pass around glasses of wine – the very sight of which should put your attendees in a relaxed, sociable frame of mind.
Layout of the area
How you design the layout is a crucial aspect in your event’s networking potential. This will require a strategy that’s well-thought out in advance. Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes to get a feel for how the physical space of your event can be laid out to facilitate easy socializing and meeting.
For instance, have seating arrangements that make for comfortable powwows, both in bigger groups or in smaller, more intimate gatherings. Try to avoid situations where a clique forms to the seclusion of others. Think in terms of flexibility as well. You don’t want people to only ever be in contact with the same people throughout the event. You want groups to come together, disperse and reform again in different arrangements. Also, make sure that there is an easy-to-reach area that’s a bit further back and away from the noise, so as to allow for one-on-one huddles.
Have a help-yourself buffet table where people can gather around and mingle, breaking the ice by remarking on how exquisite your pigs in a blanket are. Another tip is to have the snacks all around the room ensuring people move around. Rather than all in one corner, where people will inevitably just crowd around to get food, then quickly move away to make space.
Help people get to meet each other
Sometimes people need a little extra help to connect with each other. Create an event hashtag where your attendees can begin talking about the event before it even starts. You can enable communication yourself. For example, if you were hosting oil events, you’d pose relevant questions relevant to the industry.
Name badges are a tried and tested way to help people connect. Try it with a twist, though. For instance, have everyone also write down their personal motto, or their opinion on an important matter in the industry. That will help start conversations.
Can you think of any other ways to create social hotspots at your event?
- License: Creative Commons image source
This article was written by Daniel Stevens who is an avid reader and gamer. He’s also a fan of the great outdoors and when he’s not writing up a storm, that’s where you’ll find him 😉