You want to execute the perfect corporate event. You’ve probably thought about booking powerful keynote speakers and finding just the right sponsors, but don’t forget about creating networking opportunities.
Every good corporate event organizer knows that solid networking opportunities will make your guests feel like they got maximum value from your event. If attendees walk away from your event with a handful of beneficial connections, they will make your corporate events a priority every time you host one.
Here are seven tips for facilitating high-value networking opportunities at your corporate event.
1. Create an Online Community
With nearly 50% of companies using social media to increase engagement before a corporate event, creating an online community is crucial to level up against the competition. Plus, it’s the perfect way to hype people up for your event just like a pep rally before a big game. An online community can help them know how to prepare to attend and encourage engagement that will continue throughout your corporate event.
Using a virtual space allows attendees to connect on Linkedin, message each other, schedule appointments, and even plan to grab a bite together. Look into networking apps and websites to create a perfect online platform for your attendees.
2. Provide Name Badges
Name badges with a name and company are standard at business events, but why not go the extra mile and add a feature to attendee badges that spark networking? Consider a color-code method that lets others know your role. There could be different colors based on whether you’re an attendee or speaker, involved in one industry or another, or enrolled in different session tracks. This helps break the ice for attendees to connect easily.
You may even use these name badges in an interactive activity, such as breakout sessions based on badge color, or mark a designated meeting place on the back of each badge to connect people with similar interests and goals in mind. Take it up a notch and use QR codes to make this all happen.
3. Plan Networking Activities
No matter how profound and empowering sessions are, a good break from seminars and speakers is necessary. This is the perfect time to connect speakers and attendees through engaging mid-session activities such as polls, breakout groups, session ratings, speed networking, charity opportunities, industry-related trivia, bingo, goal-setting workshops, scavenger hunts, roundtable discussions, etc.
4. Design a Networking Guide
Networking may naturally happen at your event, but to ensure people take advantage of the networking opportunities, create a networking guide that people can download or print off when they register for your event. This is especially helpful for first-time event-goers who may need to be more relaxed or bold about reaching out to others.
Your guide should offer quality tips and tricks to follow throughout your event. Please don’t make the tips too general; make them specific to your event and the industries represented there. You might suggest which sessions to attend, what to add to their attendee profile, and which highly-rated local bars and restaurants are around your event venue. Attendees will appreciate these customized details in your networking guide.
5. Work in Group Networking Sessions
One-on-one setups may be intimidating for those who prefer group settings. Consider group networking opportunities such as group speed-dating rounds. Group sessions play a massive role in luring first-time event-goers and enhancing their experience. First-timers may be the ones who need to network the most.
You might give groups five to 10 minutes to “date,” discuss selected topics, and watch the connections blossom.
6. Designate Networking Hubs
Networking hubs are an underrated and effective way to facilitate networking at your event. You can start by transforming water, snack, and coffee stations into networking hubs by adding signs with icebreaker questions and topic suggestions.
People will always gravitate toward the food at some point, so take advantage of an area you know will get a lot of foot traffic and turn these areas into conversation hubs. Plaster conversation starters, keywords, and random facts around your “hub” to prompt people to interact.
7. People Matching
Networking and dating have a lot of similarities. Both can be nerve-racking and uncomfortable, and you’ll only get together again if there’s a connection. Most methods for finding your soul mate also work for making those unique business connections, such as people matching.
This may take a lot of work, but it will be one of the best tools for your attendees. Try to pair people with similar interests and roles. Take into account their industry, hobbies, or even hometowns.
This may happen online before your event or through a logging system as they arrive. No matter your method, grouping like-minded people can be one of the most effective networking tools at your event.
Attendees will remember and appreciate your corporate event planning if it had an impact on them. Putting yourself out there and organically finding networking opportunities to benefit your career can be challenging. As the event host, you can make it easier for attendees to make connections and naturally surround themselves with the right people. Implementing the above seven tips will ensure every attendee has the opportunity to network.