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Blending digital networking with face to face meetings can deliver extended conversations and strengthened relationships. Here are some tips on how to get it right.
Live events have a challenge. Drawing the same volume of attendees as in previous years is now taking more effort than it used to. There is a plethora of experiences and content competing for the prospective participants’ attention. Committed as we are to the unsurpassable value of face to face meetings, the fact remains that event organizers have to work harder and smarter at convincing busy professionals and entrepreneurs to engage with them.
One excellent means of delivering on your event’s promise is to use pre-show and post-show matchmaking and recommendations to connect attendees and exhibitors before, during the event.
Setting the Stage for Successful Networking
Here are some essential ingredients that come together to not just save your team considerable time and effort, but also make it easier for your event participants to explore viable networking opportunities.
Just matching buyers and sellers on demographics and product categories is not sufficient anymore. Demographics are not always reliable or fully updated, and identifying suitable suppliers from one long list isn’t always easy. This kind of matchmaking needs to be supplemented with automatic behavior and action-based matchmaking. Delivering a list of attendees who have directly or indirectly indicated an interest in an exhibitor’s products and services can make it easier for exhibitors to start networking with interested buyers, thus boosting their ROI. Similarly, showing recommended suppliers based on an attendee’s past searches, page visits and planner activity can save them considerable time, and impress them with the value your event is delivering to them.
Numerous user interface interaction studies have revealed the power of ease of use in boosting task completion. Attendees should be able to request and accept appointments with the click of a button, on any device of their choice and from anywhere in the world. Complicated navigation, interfaces and approval processes can negatively affect their experience and discourage them from using the resources provided to them. On the other hand, a digital solution that’s responsive and adaptive, and built on strong usability principles, can significantly boost engagement by encouraging attendees to explore and engage more with the exhibitors’ content.
Deeper User-Generated Content
Just providing easy-to-use scheduling features can boost networking but not sustain it. To keep buyers coming back and stay engaged with your event’s brand, show organizers need to leverage the power of user-generated content. Rich content in exhibitor eBooth listings acts like a digital storefront for attendees, who find value in exploring exhibitors’ products, videos, show specials and press releases to learn as much about them in advance as possible. This has an indirect but deep impact in the quality of business networking that your event can deliver to attendees.
Deeper Education and Promotion
It’s imperative to inform and update your event participants on the matchmaking and networking resources available to them. Education is necessary not just for the first timers, but for all participants. Even seasoned veterans may need to be made aware of the capabilities and advantages of a new technology or process. Using every means of communication possible, on every popular channel available, show organizers can considerably increase the adoption and usage of their networking features.
Trying to stay focused and network successfully in a busy and crowded booth is not always conducive. Other attendees may try to vie for your attention or other conversations may make it harder to listen to questions and answer them correctly. To facilitate productive networking, expo and meeting organizers should consider creating designated meeting zones where the participants can meet at the appointed time and concentrate exclusively on fruitful introductions and conversations. This is especially true if your event is organizing a hosted buyer or speed networking program, which require intensive concentration and participation for each meeting.
To create more value for your attendees and exhibitors, and to keep bringing them, show organizers should focus on delivering a high-quality networking experience. By automating processes, using intelligent matchmaking and focusing on adoption, eventprofs can significantly strengthen the value proposition of their event, making it the centralized hub that draws the entire industry to it, year after year.