Many delegates come to an event to meet new people but not all of them know how to network correctly. Therefore you need to help them a bit.
During Meeting Professionals International’s European Meetings & Events Conference this spring, attendees brainstormed on ways to incorporate networking into the event, with the help of facilitator Mike van der Vijver. Their 5 ideas will help with your events, too:
1) Start with 3 questions
During the EMEC session, facilitator Mike van der Vijver placed delegates into pairs and had them come up with three questions they could use to open a conversation when meeting a new person. Then he let them ask these questions and give each other their feedback. After the session, the EMEC delegates were equipped with powerful conversation-opening questions.
2) Speed networking
Prepare a list of lighthearted questions for your delegates such as “What do you like about your hometown? What was your favorite subject in high school?” For each one-minute networking round, make your attendees walk around the room and find a person to whom they can briefly tell their name and then ask the question. When the time is up, give them the next question and ask them to find another person.
3) Discussion tables
Divide your audience into groups of 5-8, assign them a discussion topic and let them share their knowledge and experience with one another for 10 minutes. When the time is up, make them choose another table with a new topic and new participants. The conversations will naturally continue after the session is over.
4) Seat swap
This is probably the easiest trick you could think of. Don’t let your attendees sit next to the same people throughout the entire day. Make them change their seats after the breaks and introduce themselves to the participants sitting next to them.
5) Networking guidelines
In front of the venue, put up a banner with the networking guidelines that clearly explains which introduction tactics are given a thumbs up and which are frowned upon. This helps to set the right expectations and encourages attendees to make new friends.
Source: Meeting Design Institute