Organisers often spend so much time developing the educational content for their conferences that they forget about building in quality networking opportunities. But did you know that networking is the primary reason top execs attend conferences?
A survey of Fortune 1000 executives conducted by Goodman Lantern found that nearly 70% attend conferences to meet peers. Therefore, if you want good attendees at your event you must provide great networking opportunities.
For networking to be truly effective, it needs to go further than a drinks reception and name badges; there must be an element of facilitation involved to help your attendees meet the people they really want to meet.
One way to do this is to have a professional introducer working the floor, but if you’d prefer to take a high tech approach, there are a number of the solutions on the market. We asked the representatives of eight leading event networking tools to tell us how they can help attendees make valuable connections at your next conference.
“Speed Networking is an event technology software that takes the traditional value of face-to-face networking and combines it with an advanced matching software to create highly targeted networking events. It’s strategic, structured, effective, and fun.
“Attendees are able to pre-select the types of people they’re interested in meeting based on a short survey they fill out when registering. Our software takes those survey responses and uses an advanced algorithm to pair people together based on mutual interests. At the event, participants receive a customised schedule of meetings based on their individual preferences. The customised schedule includes relevant information about each individual that participants are scheduled to meet with at the event.
“We also assist with registration, marketing, room set-up, event facilitation, post-event survey, and ROI analysis so that event planners can focus on other areas of their conference/event and leave the networking up to the professionals.”
“Presdo Match is the ONLY event guide application that comes with LinkedIn integration, making it easier for participants to sign up (no work or time spent re-typing your profile into Match!) and network more efficiently during the event.
“The experience actually begins even before the event itself because participants can upload their profiles and interests and immediately begin meeting other attendees. During the event, Presdo Match can help identify people with shared interests. Then offer mutually agreeable and available times to connect and facilitate a meeting. After the event, participants can follow up via their digital business cards to further the relationships begun via the Match experience.”
“Using Socio, event organisers can build a white label event app that unlocks the networking potential in their event in less than two hours. Before the event, attendees can find the right people to connect with, chat with them and schedule a face-to-face meeting in the venue.
“During the event, attendees can simply shake their phones to find out who is around them and optimise their networking experience. Once they meet with other attendees, they can shake their phones next to each other and exchange contact information more completely and efficiently than ever before. Organisers can simply project SocioLive to a wall or a screen to visualise the networking interaction in real-time and gamify the entire experience.
“After the event, attendees can use the event app to follow up and stay in touch with their connections, or export the connections they made to their phones or CRMs, seamlessly. Meanwhile, organisers can collect all the networking data including the number of handshakes, influencers, etc.”
“Grip combines the most sophisticated AI-powered matchmaking engine with an easy-to-use user interface that is available on desktop, mobile and fully integrated with peoples’ personal calendars.
“Right after you register for an event you receive a welcome email to the matchmaking platform including personalised recommendations of people to meet. The event matchmaking app connects delegates, speakers and exhibitors in a fast and simple way through its signature ‘handshakes’ and meeting scheduling functionality.
“Users are able to express interest in connecting with someone, but they can only message if the recipient responds in kind with a mutual handshake. This ensures users are never bombarded with unwanted messages. The platform also supports all your typical event functionality such as push notifications, multi-track session agendas and badge scanning, creating an all-in-one event solution.”
“Social Wearables is a new product from Limbic Media that acts as a digital icebreaker, sparking social interaction and enhancing networking opportunities. Social Wearables is a light pendant coloured with RGB LED lights. When wearers touch their pendant with ones of a different colour, it vibrates and collects new shades until they ‘Capture the Rainbow,’ which is the first in an upcoming catalogue of Social Wearables games. Event organisers can offer prizes or perks as incentives for people to make more connections.
“The pendant makes it easy for conversations to unfold. Most social platforms are ‘heads-down’, but looking at your phone makes it easy to miss out on making genuine connections. Social Wearables is a unique ‘heads-up’ technology. It gets people’s attention up, brings people to you, and provides a social context for approaching someone you’ve never talked to before.
“Social Wearables is under development, and also has the potential to track and analyse interaction at social events to better understand the benefits and outcomes of networking.”
“The DoubleDutch platform facilitates connection between attendees through attendee messaging, one-to-one meeting scheduling, and a recommendation engine that connects attendees with similar interests.
“DoubleDutch believes in the power of human connection and provides an end-to-end event management platform that allows you to enhance and enable those interactions with a digital layer. By providing digitised logistics and interactivity between attendees and with content, the DoubleDutch platform captures behavioural data. This provides organisers with real-time and post-event actionable insights to help them deliver business outcomes.”
“Eventtia provides a fully automated B2B matchmaking system, helping event professionals to connect people and businesses at their events. By using our B2B matchmaking platform, organisers can ask their guests (when registering to attend the event) to specify their networking preferences and interests.
“By enabling the “I’m offering” and “I’m looking for” modes, people will have to articulate their networking goals. Having this information, event planners can create different attendee profiles, segmenting the audience into groups. Subsequently, they can decide which group profiles are compatible, this way letting people from one group request meetings with people from other groups. This system also provides the necessary tools to run attendee quality control and confirm the qualification of those people who want to attend the event.
“In addition, organisers can dictate the exact time frame when guests can book the meetings. They can also determine the duration of the one-on-one meetings by setting up the amount of time they consider necessary for the attendees to interact with each other.”
“Attendees join Brella up to three weeks before the event. They can join with popular social integrations such as LinkedIn, Google and Facebook. They can also use the fully mobile responsive web-app which works on every device, or download our native app.
“Once attendees are inside, Brella’s algorithm matches them based on their interests. Then they can schedule one-to-one meetings with the people they’d like to meet. Meeting booking is also easy as the organiser can implement their event agenda and define which slots are open for meetings. When a meeting is accepted, Brella gives a meeting location automatically. This removes the stress of deciding where to meet.
“We deliver on average 3.87 meetings per user and 92% of meetings are booked before the event starts. The reason for such great results is our intuitive UX and design. Even the least tech-savvy attendee enjoys the networking experience with Brella.”
Don’t let networking be an afterthought; it’s as valuable a part of your conference as the content. With these solutions, you can allow the mixing and mingling to begin before the doors of your event even open. This means more meaningful meetings can happen on the day.
What are your experiences of facilitating networking at your events? Have you tried any of the above solutions or found something else that works? Join the discussion on better networking on the EventTribe forum.