Corporate event networking is essential to building relationships across aisles people don’t normally cross. Your attendees deserve to make the best of their time, and your role as the producer to help them achieve that end.
Conference attendees view networking & making connections as a huge – if not the primary – reason for going in the first place. This means facilitating authentic connections at corporate events must be a top priority.
It is best to encourage your attendees to network naturally through a careful blend of purposeful planning and unintentional opportunities. This can create a sort of “arranged serendipity.”
Your event will be remembered as an excellent networking hub if you set up a time and place for the to connect and casually exit the scene. Line the dominos up and let ’em knock themselves down.
Here are some ways to encourage networking that go beyond the simple icebreakers people are used to.
Corporate Event Networking Ideas
1. Prioritize Meet & Greet opportunities
While many people certainly want to meet other like-minded professionals, tight schedules can make that a little difficult. A simple solution to this is setting aside time for your networking event within the conference or convention.
People will feel more at ease if they know they have a certain time allotted specifically for making connections.
Just as important as setting time aside is designating a great location. You’ll want to arrange a special area for your networkers to comfortably chat away.
If you want to take all this one step further, you might even consider introducing a brain date element to your event. This can help cut through the fluff and match people with the most relevant counterparts.
2. Use Food & Beverages to do what they do so well
People talk and socialize over food. It’s just what we tend to do. This is especially true for corporate event networking.
Nothing loosens up a crowd like a few drinks and appetizers – just make sure you include options for a wide-variety of preferences
Depending on the event, it might make sense to include seated areas as well. This comes in handy if you anticipate your crowd will be very tired or will want to sit and enjoy a full meal.
Furthermore, as a purposeful producer, you can seize this opportunity to play matchmaker. Accomplish this by designating areas for similar-field people, providing some talking points or even implementing some fun optional games. Clever uses of party games and free drinks at happy hour are also good ways to get your guests interacting and encourage socializing.
3. Social Media provides for better networking
Create a hashtag and make sure you include it on everything. Use the right technology and maybe even a photography booth to help you facilitate engagement.
Another great option is a social media wall, this will spotlight your guests posts and help them to network online even if they miss others while in person on site.
Contests are always a great idea. Giveaways will encourage interaction. Try to come up with something fantastic or new and your guests will remember it long after they’ve returned home. This is the type of reputation you want to have with your guests so that they not only return next year, but bring some friends or colleagues along with them.
4. Go the extra mile and hour
Your guests will definitely look to you for something to do after the sessions are done for the day. Why not have a list of places to visit, eat, shop, or play after hours? You may even want to schedule after hour activities around the pool or based on attendee interests.
Provide multiple options and see how these like-minded guests find their way to similar places and happen to network in a comfortable-to-them environment.
Interaction is key for the conference attendee. During the few days or week that they are there it might not be easy or natural for them to make friends and meet new people. Keeping intentional opportunities for networking as a priority during your planning and brainstorming sessions will benefit you in your efforts to keeping this goal organic within your event.
Feedback is important when you are determining how your attendees felt about your networking opportunities. Be sure to include this aspect of the event on your exit surveys or online reviews.