Planning a Networking Event?
Get Your Guests Connected!
Creative Networking Event Trends Your Attendees Will Love
Have you been neglecting your networking events, simply planning a happy hour at the hotel bar and checking it off your list? The truth is that many corporate meetings, conferences, and trade shows attract attendees mainly for the opportunity to rub elbows with industry experts.
Instead of leaving these valuable connections up to chance, build in the space for attendees to widen their circles. Some thoughtful planning along with an engaging platform can create experiences your event attendees will carry with them for the rest of their careers.
The Omnience team loves a networking event that brings true value to attendees’ experiences, and our experience designing these opportunities gives us insight into their success. Here are some of our favorite tips and trends for planning networking events your attendees will love.
Change Up The Setting
While the happy hour networking event is a standard option that works for many industries, it can be amazing what shaking up the setting can do for varying demographics and goals. Consider a broad idea of when and how your attendees can organically socialize, and watch them make meaningful connections.
More emphasis is being placed on the early morning hours at longer events, ensuring that not one hour of useful time slips by. Planning a networking event during breakfast can jumpstart attendees’ days with connections they can come back to throughout the event.
- Strategic Seating for Interaction
Integrating networking into other aspects of the program is a smart idea all around. Attendees are already in the mindset of taking in the new information they are learning, including their own expertise and goals. When you mix this with some strategic seating meant to prompt discussion among attendees, you have a networking event with built-in icebreakers based on speakers, workshops, or panel discussions. You could choose to group attendees together by job title, career goal, industry—the options are endless depending on your goals.
- Corporate Social Responsibility Activities
For more organic networking and socializing revolving around your corporate culture, let attendees work together to create something bigger. Whether they build a bicycle for a child or clean up a local park, attendees will connect over the shared experience.
Pair With A Purpose
Some of the biggest trends right now focus on how attendees are grouped for the best chance of meeting their networking goals. Now we are seeing new and exciting ways to support our event guests as they educate themselves and broaden their social circles.
- Brain Dates
A more narrowly focused form of networking, brain dates use specific data to create successful matches. Attendees are able to answer questions about their professional goals and interests, and even designate the kind of people they are interested in meeting. This ensures everyone involved gets to make the most of the networking event, never again getting cornered by someone who doesn’t offer them anything of value.
For a fun and quirky twist—and for the right demographic—creating networking matches or groups based on personality traits can end in wonderful serendipity. Ask attendees to choose a treat from a buffet table, and then reveal that their choice determined their group. Give an impromptu personality test and match attendees accordingly. These delightful moments will give them something to break the ice as well.
- Curated Matches
For a personalized and thoughtful touch, provide attendees with a list of people they should connect with during the event. This essentially opens up the entire event to acting as a networking opportunity, giving attendees the flexibility to determine when, where, and how they connect with others.
Like every other area of event planning, technology is enhancing the way we plan networking opportunities as well. From new technology to new spins on old favorites, we love the ways we can connect attendees through fresh modes.
- Smart Badges
Smart badges amp up the name badge to its ultimate usefulness. Based on the premise of matching attendees with the people they could potentially connect with the best, smart badges alert the wearer when a match is near them. It pairs to their phone, giving them the information they need to successfully build a connection with someone they might not know was so close otherwise.
- Online Groups
Although in-person networking events are by far the best options, they can be supported through online groups to keep the relationships going. Social media, event apps, and other dedicated platforms offer convenient communication opportunities that may be less intimidating than a direct text or email. These groups can last far after the event is done, giving members a lasting benefit from your program.
- Event App Features
When choosing your event app, look for features that will help connect your attendees through chats, interactive schedules, leader boards, and session sign-ups. Most event apps today are inclusive, keeping attendees there for everything they need, so they are perfect for initiating networking opportunities.
How Will You Measure Success?
One important note with networking events, as with all aspects of your program, is how you can measure the success of your efforts. Prioritize your networking events and include questions about them on your post-event surveys. Use your event app to track the analytics behind how and when attendees connected.
Networking events might not show up on your priorities, but offering exciting opportunities like these can create meaningful connections for your attendees. It is important to remember why in-person conferences, meetings, and events are so impactful, and part of that is the chance to build powerful professional relationships. Designing and planning a networking event can seem overwhelming, but Omnience has the expertise to deliver. Contact us to start planning your next program.