October 10, 2019

Overlooked Ways to Encourage Networking at Events

From the smallest meetup to the largest user conference there is a common denominator that will drive registration numbers, increase perceived value and create lasting memories in connection with your brand – that crucial factor is networking. Here are some less conventional ways to intersperse networking opportunities throughout your next event.

TIPS TO BOOST EVENT NETWORKING

Better badges – many people have difficulty remembering names, especially when being introduced to many new faces in a short period of time. Take the pressure off by thoughtfully designing badges to be easily readable.

  • Select fonts and high-contrast colors for their legibility; kern appropriately.
  • Always display the first name larger and more prominently than any other info and opt for holders that will not flip over.
  • If budget allows, go a step further with smart badges. There are products that can be preloaded with attendees’ data and use proximity beacons to feed interactions. For example, lighting up when someone nearby has indicated a shared interest and digitally exchanging contact information if desired.

Utterly new experiences – nothing gets people talking like something unexpected that gives the crowd a collective “wow moment.” It requires more time and money, but your investment will be invaluable when it has onlookers turning to each other to ask, “Did you just see that?” or “How did they do that?”

  • Elicit a reaction by upgrading the standard food and beverage with on-demand custom 3D printed snacks, a latte foam artist or beer taps that fill glasses from the bottom.
  • Swap out your keynote speaker’s hand-held actuator for a gesture-driven system.
  • Deploy customer service robots programmed to interact with and assist your guests or have supplies delivered by drone.

In good company – offer enticing group activities as an excellent, low-pressure way to get people together.

  • Guided tours allow you to connect on a different level with your attendees. By setting the number of openings in each round to a manageable size, they are also a natural setting for making connections with each other as they move through the space and ask questions.
  • Form small groups by waiting for complete parties. For example, have your VR experience be a team format that doesn’t begin until all headsets are filled, or have stools around your demo table and start your presentation after you have drawn those who share an interest in your product together.
  • Distributing supplies in sets is another way to easily get people linking up. For instance, handing out programs, meals or swag only in lots of seven will necessitate introductions between neighbors to hit the magic number. 

A fine line – No one loves waiting in line, but if handled properly, a queue can actually be a useful networking tool in several ways.

  • Seeing a line is a visual that is its own advertisement, attracting people from a distance to come see what the fuss is about.
  • Once they have joined, not only do you have a “captive” audience that your team can engage with, but conversations among participants will happen organically as they pass the time, speculating about what’s to come, sharing where they’re from and what brought them to the event or discussing an earlier presentation.
  • Keep the line moving and communicate the wait time to set expectations. Make it fun with activities that offer a jumping-off point for conversations, such as trivia or a short video on tablets, a digital graffiti wall or interactive flooring.

Bonus tip – sometimes taking something away is just as effective at breaking the ice as adding something. Consider a futuristic solution that takes you back in time: establishing phone-free zones with cases that automatically disable the phone within a set perimeter. With eyes up and thumbs still, attendees will be transported to the good old days of face-to-face interactions.

In a recent study of nearly 9,000 prospective and current event attendees, 76% responded that opportunities to network were important to them, driving their decision whether to attend. Facilitate meaningful connections among your attendees and a meaningful connection to your brand will follow. Temple Rock is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.