The Need to Network

How meeting planners can encourage networking
and make their next event a success.

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Whether you love or hate networking, we all know it is essential. It’s no wonder then that event attendees rank good networking opportunities as a critical factor for event success.

Events can be a great way to promote your company or cause, but how do you plan events that are definites for attendees, not duds?

What’s the value?

Before committing to an event, potential attendees determine if the time away from the office and time spent traveling is worth it. People want significant returns in terms of what they will learn and who they will meet.

There are many reasons that draw attendees to an event, but here are our top five:

  1. Topics/Speakers—To encourage attendee interaction, you want an event’s topic to be relevant to the audience. In addition, the speakers need to live up to the potential of the topics.
  2. Host—The person or organization that is staging the event can have a big impact on the quality of the event. The better the planner’s reputation, the more likely the networking potential will be good.
  3. Open or Exclusive—An invitation-only event can signal a more exclusive and focused crowd, however, don’t automatically discount an open event, especially if attendees are interested in widening their typical network.
  4. Community Size—The smaller the group, the more targeted the event. Plan some activities or breakouts in groups of 30 to 70 people if your aim is to increase quality interactions.
  5. Beyond Networking—The event should offer something of value in addition to just networking. If that’s all you offer, the event will quickly take on a bad vibe.

Is your event lame?

Want to make sure your event doesn’t fall into the "don’t" column for your attendees? You have to get in there and mix it up, especially if the mingling is not happening organically. You may have to step in and be the connector, so it’s imperative that you meet and speak to as many attendees as possible.

Also, if you want to keep everyone there until the very end, creating some incentives can stop attendees from skipping out early. Finally, try to keep the focus on “we” and not “me.” Too many events become bogged down by organizations focusing on themselves, rather than forging connections with attendees and addressing their needs.