One of the main goals of most events is networking! As event planners, we want to make sure that every attendee feels engaged, comfortable, and leaves with many new contacts. Professional networking is a way establish personal connections, gain information, and increase visibility for yourself, company, or brand! This post is geared towards anyone throwing a professional event, marketing directors, and event attendees!
In the digital age, there must be a balance between in-person relationships and online relationships. In-person interaction creates more connection, but can be fostered using the every growing event technology. Attendees often spend their free time buried in their phones, keeping in touch with already made connections, and bypassing the opportunity to meet new ones. Here, we discuss the importance of networking at events, tips and tricks to make an impression, and some fancy technology that we have found helpful to help keep attendees mentally present during events!
The most effective networking approach must be two-fold, incorporating both social media and face to face networking to create powerful relationships. Face-to-face networking is very different from online networking. Online networking allows us to present the best version of ourselves, whereas in-person networking shows the whole of our brand and our person.
SOCIAL MEDIA/ TECH NETWORKING:
You should expect attendees to show up with their mobile phone in hand, or pocket, or pocketbook, or…you get the idea. So, capitalize on that! Using social media to promote an event, boost attendance, and communicate with guests is essential. The important part is making sure that guests are engaged with the event, and at the same time utilizing the tech. According to CNBC, mobile web traffic is expected to exceed desktop usage in 2014, indicating how important mobile communication is! Here are three of the technologies we are really excited about to harmonize tech with your event.
1. snapcastr is a web interface that amplifies engagement by broadcasting social media, which in turn helps to form a connection between attendees and their social media expression with how they experience the event. This is done by taking away the barrier between the attendee and the outside world by incorporating into the event what they would normally be looking at on their phone by using a special hash tag.
2. Guidebook is a Palo Alto based app that helps connect with your audience using their mobile device. It allows event organizers to easily and inexpensively get all event materials to their attendees via their mobile devices. This means, you can get your attendees a schedule, a map, list of sponsors, etc. right to their handheld device, and they can synch their Twitter and Facebook in order to give feedback. It’s a win win.
3. Video Name Tags are a great way to promote attendees and their company. Knowing someone’s name is a quick way to curry favor, so expanding on the basic name tag in order to give more information about each attendee will generate more interaction.
IN- PERSON NETWORKING:
Everyone in every type of industry should be attending networking events. These are a great way to meet new people in the industry, which can turn into prospects, and hence sales! Check out some tips that make this a breeze:
1. When meeting new people, make sure you distinguish yourself from the crowd with some personal stories, family information, compliments and lots of questions for the other party. People really respond to complements, and love talking about their families.
2. Be who you really are because it’ll come out eventually. You might as well just be you to start with. Each networking opportunity must be approached taking into account how those you speak with can benefit from the interaction, not only yourself.
3. Follow up with at least a couple of the people you met at the event, if not all of them. This could include a coffee invitation, or a fun recommendation about something you talked about.
BREAKING DOWN WALLS BETWEEN ATTENDEES:
We must structure our events to maximize interaction between the guests, so here are a few ways to help make this happen!
1. Having an area specifically for “new attendees” during the first half of your event is a great way to engage new participants, make them feel comfortable, and open up the channels for meeting and mingling
2. A great place to meet new people is at the food table. People tend to be happier and more accessible around food, and they linger at the food table. Set up the event to minimize congestion.
3. Share a list of attendees, sponsors and their companies ahead of time in order to open up the channels for networking. This will allow attendees to come prepared for networking.
Are you ready to create the perfect networking opportunity for your next event? Are there any relationship building tips that we missed? Did any of them work particularly well for you? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!