Adding Real Value Networking to Your Conference
This is a guest post by William Thomson. William is Head Honcho at Gallus Events, a small Event Company based in London and Barcelona. He’s been organising events for over ten years. He recently curated “TechFest12” a technology based event for organisers in London. He blogs regularly. Tweets even more. And he loves speaking about and to as many people as he can about the “wonderfully weird world of events”.
It’s something you see on almost every advert for a conference. “This event offers excellent networking opportunities”. But do they?
10 Things You Can Do to Improve Networking at Your Conference
1. Allocate table places at the start of the day. Decide if you want to allocate by example: similar size of organisations or by job title. How you allocate is up to you but make sure the discussions you are facilitating relate to the content
2. Use cabaret format as it gently forces people to say hello to everyone on their tables (theatre style probably means you will speak to two people at the most during the sessions)
3. Investigate gamification as it’s a great way to support netwroking
4. Good networking is also about allowing people to actually rest. View ‘breaks’ as just that and ensure everyone has some time to soak up the learning and have a coffee in peace if they want to
5. Mix tables up for the afternoon. Again how you allocate people to help networking is up to you
6. Build networking (via discussions) into every main session. Allow delegates the time to talk about something from every session, or make sure you add ‘table discussion’ time at the end of each part of the day
7. Embrace technology. Allow and facilitate 1-2-1 meetings arranged on line at your event
8. Help your delegates take their networking off line by encouraging them to sign up and follow each other on social media
9. Add something exciting or different to your programme or your event at the start of the day. This will give them something easy to talk about
10. Dedicate time to networking outside of the breaks, perhaps adding add a quiet informal drinks reception, with no entertainment, after the conference or an informal dinner before
Like cream, the best networkers always rise to the top so by helping structure a bit of networking you can ensure that everyone gets something that bit extra from your next conference.