Facilitating networking goes beyond gathering a bunch of people together at a venue.
As an organizer of events where networking with others is an integral facet (e.g. meetups, community events, conferences, trade shows), how would you set the stage for your attendees to start real conversations and build deep relationships?
We share 7 ways you can improve your attendees’ event networking experience.
1. Schedule time for networking. Give your attendees enough time to mingle during your event. Don’t scrimp on this (or worse, forget), especially if it’s one reason your attendees are there.
2. Survey and know your attendees. Not everyone will come from your personal or professional network, so knowing who your attendees are, what they do, what their interests are and so on beforehand can be very helpful knowledge. Armed with this knowledge, you can then easily strike up conversations with your guests and connect the relevant people together during the event. Surveying’s made easy by setting up a form for your event via the Peatix dashboard that guests will need to fill out before completing their reservation or ticket purchase.
3. Plan to make deliberate introductions. Your attendees might not know each other as well as you do (given your pre-event survey) so go through the survey data before the event and pair people you think might like to meet with each other. This helps you facilitate the making of deliberate introductions during the event.
4. Prepare name tags. Make your attendee’s name and designation clearly visible so it’s easy for others to know who they are at a glance! Name tags can provide a great conversation starter, and since you’ve already collected the information in a pre-event survey you might as well put it to good use.
5. Include ice-breakers. As cheesy as it sounds, ice-breakers do help to thaw the initial reservations. It could be as simple as getting attendees to do a one-liner introduction to three people in ten minutes or as elaborate as musical chairs just to help people loosen up a little.
6. Cater food! It’s got everything to do with networking. Food entices attendees to come earlier and even extends the time they will stay for an event; provides a point of conversation and a filler for awkward silences; and gives people something to do with their hands.
Great for pictures too, as demonstrated at Backstage Pass in Kuala Lumpur
7. Set the mood with the right mixture of venue, music and wine. Choose a venue with a comfortable ambience that’s suited to your event genre. Music and wine has been used as an icebreaker since ancient times, so make generous use of this tactic.