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How to Save Attendees from Networking Hell

Imagine this: you walk into a room with 1,000 people but find yourself alone – drowning in a sea of people. Some people you know – but that lady who just walked past – who was she? Could she be a “future” customer? But before you can ask – “poof” she is gone. Unsure of what to do next – you circle the room, get in line for a drink and set your sights on the nearest empty table.

This scenario is common for many first-time, shy and timid attendees. It can be a networking hell.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You, the event organizer, can throw attendees a life preserver and save them. Here are some things that you can do to help.


Understand Attendees Networking Objectives

The post 20 Reasons Delegates Attend Conferences uncovered several “specific” attendee networking objectives. In many cases, I think these objectives are unstated by most people – but they are there. By recognizing these objectives and creating activities to support them – you can help your attendees do a better job of networking.

Here are some examples of different networking objectives:

  • Meet Like Minded People
  • Discuss Topics of Interest
  • Connect with Old Friends
  • Meet New People
  • Discuss Best Practices
  • Find New Business Partners

Notice the verbs – meet, discuss, connect and find.  Are you helping attendees do these things at your events – or is it largely their responsibility?

Five Questions Attendees Need Help Answering

When I worked at Spotme, we helped thousands and thousands of attendees network better than ever before. The secret to this success was in Spotme’s ability to help attendees answer the following questions:

1. Who else is here?

2. What do they look like?

3. What do I have in common with other participants?

4. How do I find or connect with them?

5. How can we stay connected after this event?

Imagine how much easier it would be for you to network at events if you had tools that answered those questions? Imagine how much your attendees would love you if you provided similar tools?

The good news is that there are several ways to do this. You could print a photo guide, provide an electronic delegate list, use an event specific social networking site (like Crowdvine, Pathable, Social Collective, Eventvue or Zerista), create a networking wall, use an onsite mobile networking tool, etc.

Bottom Line

There are several ways that you can help first-time, shy or timid attendees have an awesome networking experience. First – consider their objectives. Second – put together activities that correspond to those objectives. Finally, provide tools that help attendees answer important questions about the others at the event.

You have the ability to throw your attendees a life preserver and save them from networking hell. Will you do it?

photo credit: scoobay

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is the Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC. He wakes up every morning to save the world from stuffing attendees in chairs for hours on end at events. Oh, and he has small children who usually want some breakfast.