You can lead an attendee to an event, but you can’t make them network? Or can you?

Having attendees connect with one another is one of the main aims of many events, but getting that to happen is harder than it seems.

Bringing together a group of people with common interests, giving them a comfortable space and providing refreshments might seem sufficient, but will it spark enough of the types of interactions and conversations known to be so important in business of every kind?

Not everyone finds it easy to meet new people or better connect with acquaintances. They might be shy or introverted, busy and distracted, disinterested or downright cranky. Too often people leave an event disheartened, not having met anyone relevant to them or their business, despite their best intentions. But why?

We have a theory that people are like taxis (go with us here!) If their networking light isn’t on, then there’s simply no hope of flagging them down for a conversation. As event specialists it’s our job to get more of those ‘lights’ turned on.

Fortunately, we have a number of tricks up our sleeves which can get conversations started and help them flow, create a positive, social atmosphere, and get people engaged and inspired.

Firstly, you can get a jump on the process by creating a group or space on-line where attendees can meet virtually before meeting in person, and give a helping hand by matching people with others who share similar interests or specialisms.

At the event itself, leaving room for people to chat is vital, so plan for breaks and create spaces for them to do so. Maybe morning coffee, afternoon tea or a drinks reception for example – tasty food and drink always greases the conversational cogs we find!

Everything from the lighting, to the colour themes, to the layout of a space can help – creating cosy nooks, using crescent-shaped seating, or setting up a room to make it easy for people to move about, can all be conducive to better networking.

And alongside large speaker-led sessions, smaller activity-lead gatherings can really boost interactions, such as a brainstorming group, a team building exercise or challenge, or even a spot of ‘speed networking’.

Gamified networking can also be a relatively easy win; making use of mobile phone technology, or even a simple tick sheet, to invite people to compete for points by seeking out and meeting others.

Even something as simple as souped-up name badges, detailing a few interests or personal details, can be enough to provide an ‘in’ for those who dread the first awkward moments in a conversation.

This, and a myriad of other interventions big and small, can make all the difference between isolation and interaction for attendees. So why not get in touch and let us help you see the lights!

Contact UKSV on info@uksv.co.uk or call +44 (0) 1425 480444.

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