Networking: it’s assumed that everyone in a professional sphere is quite happy and comfortable to dive in headfirst and chat to a room full of strangers. Maybe that’s true for you, maybe it couldn’t be further from the truth.
For some people the prospect of networking at a corporate event fills them with dread. They watch nervously for the sidelines and look on at those individuals that seem to effortless glide around, talking to new and valuable connections. The result of these negative emotions is a feeling that networking isn’t for them and it’s only an activity reserved for those among us who are extroverts.
The truth is, it shouldn’t matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, and in fact many famous introverts such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steven Spielberg have proven that they can be very successful in their networking abilities and generate huge results through the relationships that they build.
Don’t let the FEAR of networking stop those at your events participating. Consider how your events can be designed to leverage the best out of networking sessions; come on, let’s take the ‘work’ out of networking.
Do It Differently
In a recent event industry survey, it was revealed that millennials value networking events more than any other generation, but they’re less inclined to attend alone, whereas more experienced professionals (31-45-year-olds) are happy to attend independently.
So what? Well, this little snapshot of insight tells us that people want to network in different ways. It’s time to stop assuming that everyone who attends your event wants to go through the same process when it comes to connecting with each other: who are your audiences and what do they want to get out of their networking experience? These are key questions that need to be considered in order to optimise a delegate’s networking time and help them get the most out of it; the answers will also go a long way in influencing the choices you make in the design of your networking sessions.
It’s All In The Name
It’s likely that the term ‘networking’ evokes preconceived ideas and these will certainly be underpinned by our past networking escapades. For this very reason, maybe it’s time to reconfigure ‘networking’ and give it a new name: a name that reflects the ambition and format of the session and one that will breakaway from the traditional notion and what it usually entails. Simply re-framing the proposition of networking can help attract delegates and encourage participation, giving everyone the opportunity to make new connections, raise their profile, generate leads, share ideas and information or simply catch up with existing contacts.
Make It Easy
There’s no doubting the importance of networking (or any other name you may like to insert here), so why not make it as easy as possible for your attendees to do it on the day:
A ‘Appy’ Medium
Although traditional networking and face to face interactions are incredibly powerful, technology can play an important role in making these meetings a little less awkward and more relevant. Consider, therefore, the use of event networking apps; there’s a whole host of applications available, which, depending on what you’re looking for, offer different specifications. Incorporating an app can brilliantly facilitate the networking process for delegates ahead of, during and post event.
Break The Ice
In the lead up to your event, why don’t you put together and distribute some recommended conversation starters, tailored specifically to the networking sessions that will be taking place. Some attendees will be networking pros, but for those who aren’t as forthcoming, some constructive ice-breaker questions, that steer away from the “what’s in it for me” approach, could help initiate real and meaningful discussions, which may lead to more lucrative relationships being formed.
What’s The End Goal?
What do you want your delegates to take away from their networking time? They might have their own ambitions in mind, but suggesting some goals, before the sessions start, can give attendees a defined focus that may enable them to take a more confident approach to their networking interactions.
A Switch Up On The Conventional
While the conventional networking format still has a valid place, implementing strategic well-thought-out activities could empower attendees to get to know each other and transfer knowledge more organically.
Developing sessions, such as these, are an opportunity for you to think outside the box and add something unique to your event programmes that foster genuine, more selfless interactions that shift the emphasis away from just selling. You know the old saying, ‘people buy from people’ well, it’s still as true today as it ever was; lay the foundations for your attendees to get to know each other and build real relationships that pave the way for conducive business talks.
When it comes to the networking elements of your events, dare to change it up. The end game can remain the same, but there are so many exciting and novel ways to elevate the experiences of those participating to make it more comfortable, engaging and beneficial for everyone participating. Not to mention, the successful execution of your networking sessions can help reflect the purpose and personality of your brand brilliantly and contribute to attendees forming further positive affiliations with your organisation.
The In2Events team specialise in building AMAZING events and experiences that connect you to the people that matter most to your business. With us every element of your event is carefully designed and delivered to bring you closer to your customers, partners and staff. Ready to see what we can do? Let’s talk: 02392 320 581 or email: email@example.com