Apr 02, 2014 The Art of Facilitated Networking, Part 2
Why do people attend events? If you read my entry last week, you will have learned that the primary reasons are to network and to learn. Using what I refer to as facilitated networking, I shared some strategies to help ensure that the event design always has those two goals top of mind.
Building more structured networking into your event experience is a great way to encourage people and gives both introverts and the extroverts a chance to walk away with some new connections.
Social: Provide entertainment and decor that is clever or interesting and designed to promote conversation and bring guests together. Instead of a standard bar, consider an interactive scotch tasting or a sommelier conducting a blind tasting for example.
Lounges: Create vignettes that are conducive to conversation with the use of inviting lounge furniture and small tables for conversation. Scout out locations in the hotel or venue that are conducive to conversation and build them into your agenda. Create a lounge area outside the ballroom/session rooms. Our designer often works with the hotel asking for existing furniture to be moved to create these environments.
Name badges: This is an obvious one but by all means make them legible and consider a code to denote whether they are a customer or host. I’m not a big fan of ribbons or other plumage, but sharing key info in an easy to read style is key. We will tackle name badges as their own topic in the weeks to come.
It sounds simple, but getting people to network at events can actually be quite a challenge. You really need to understand your audience profile to craft the experiences that are appropriate and likely to foster connections.
Hopefully, my ideas over the past 2 weeks will help you rise to this key event challenge and inspire you to creatively tackle the issue. This is an active topic and one that we continue to address with each successive event.