Networking — it's often the primary reason why people want to attend events and it's often an event planner's job to help make it as easy and effective as possible for attendees. If you're unsure of how to make your networking opportunities stand out, know that facilitating meaningful experiences for your attendees can be created with the right technology, and it can also help you expand their networking journeys beyond the couple days spent onsite.
By gaining an understanding of attendees' networking goals prior to the event you can set them up with best 1-to-1 meetings, helping them build a perfect agenda full of significant connections. And by helping continue the conversation post-event, attendees continue to reap the benefits of their meetings and it makes them want to return to your event again in the future.
Pre-Event: Understand Attendee Goals
It's important to set the foundation for networking long before your event begins. Upon registration, make sure you ask for key demographic data (industry, title, and anything else you think is relevant), as well as direct questions about what they want to get out of potential networking opportunities. For example, are they looking for a new technology solution (if so, what kind)? Do they want to connect with a particular subject matter expert to pick their brain about a problem they're having? Or do they simply want to meet with like-minded people to build their own personal network? No matter what it is, by collecting this data early on it can help you build out your matchmaking tool to ensure the right connections are being made at your event.
During the Event: Utilize Mobile Devices
Matchmaking can be done prior to or during the event itself, but either way, an event mobile app is the best tool to keep networking organized for your attendees while onsite. Along with seeing their matches via your app, they can add meetings to their personal agenda, find contact information on attendee, sponsor or exhibitor lists, and private message those that they want to meet up with. Floor plans can help them easily find designated meeting spots or particular booths they want to visit in your exhibit hall.
Post-Meeting: Exchange Resources & Content Info
Once your attendees have met, it's time to seal the deal by exchanging contact information. Save attendees time and paper by investing in digital badge technology. With a click of a button, they can exchange any information they want via Bluetooth in seconds, as well as review it on their smartphones later (without having to fish around a sea of business cards). This technology has added benefits for event planners too. When paired with analytics tools, they can keep track of how many interactions were made at an event or even with a particular exhibitor or demographic; a great indicator of event success and ROI and how to tailor your program in years to come.