Your attendees come to your event for a few main reasons – education and networking. But, with the rise of social media, we’re finding that more and more people are able to get free education online.
If attendees can get that education online, what then is the value we organizers and our events have to offer?
Despite this new hurdle, I believe face-to-face events will never die. We are social creatures and we crave that in-person connection with other attendees. Virtual events are a great supplement, but they will never replace that in-person connection. That being said, networking has become even more important to the event experience. If the attendee networking at your event is sub-par, you’ll have a hard time drawing an audience because they can get the education elsewhere for free. So – how can you ensure your attendees get plenty of networking in? Here are a few ideas:
Make it Easy
Though many people attend events to network, it’s often an uncomfortable thing. Walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself isn’t the easiest thing so look for ways to make it easier. Mix up your name badges and encourage people to list a topic on their name badge. Color-code them to make it easier to spot people like themselves. Or, use an app to help people sort out the crowd. Also, encourage people to talk to other attendees through activities, interactive sessions and more. If needed, create games to reward people for introducing themselves to other people. Always consider ways to incentivize the kind of attendee networking you want to see at your events.
Give Them Time
Making a connection takes time so if you only have two fifteen minute breaks in your day, you can rest assured you won’t be making a lot of connections at the event. Great conversations take time so build it into your schedule. Take long coffee and lunch breaks. Offer more interactive activities to give people a reason to talk even as sessions are going on. These are all critical times for people to make a connection and go deep enough that they stay in touch after the event.
Encourage Follow up
And what happens after the event is just as important. Do whatever you can to promote follow up once the event is finished. It’s ideal if your website can serve as a portal for these connections – whether through a user database or simply through social media channels. Encourage your attendees to follow up with people they met and stay in touch.
These relationships are critical for your attendees, but also for the future of your event’s health. People always come back to events where they made great connections so your next event’s marketing is that much easier. Get your attendees networking today and learn more about this topic here with: 5 Ways to Make Corporate Events More Engaging.
Guest blogger Liz King is a NYC based event planner, passionate about technology. She works with entrepreneurs and brands to host strategic events to grow brands and deepen the relationship with their target market. She is the brainchild behind TechsyTalk, a platform bridging the gap between event tech and the event planner.