While many individuals attend various conferences to gather ideas and learn, others consider these events primarily as an opportunity to network. For an event to be considered successful, event planners need to facilitate networking opportunities. Here are six ways event planners can ensure conference attendees meet, connect and network effectively.
1. Give Attendees and Vendors an SMS Business Card
Text messaging is one of the easiest and most simple tools to utilize at conferences. Attendees don’t need a certain app or operating system to use it since pretty much everyone has an SMS-enabled mobile phone. Make it easy for attendees to share their contact information by providing a simple way for people to text and get an auto reply with a person’s business card info. It is a great way to foster engagement among attendees and allows them to walk away with new contacts in their phone for followup after the event.
Additionally, text messaging can be used by conference organizers to gather feedback from participants, conduct surveys or quizzes, or collect attendance information.
2. Use Networking Apps
If you want to utilize tools targeted to your specific conference topics, audience, and goals, you may want to consider a customized mobile app. By creating your own mobile app, you have more opportunities to present information, resources, even place contact information into the hands of attendees. Additionally, you can create features that coincide with the activities and speakers at the conference. However, if you truly want a customized mobile app to be a success, make sure the mobile app provides some value. You also want to ensure security measures are in place for all those who attend the conference and use the mobile app.
No time to build your own app? Check out this list of networking apps designed to help your attendees network effectively.
3. Host An Interview Series
A great way to connect with other attendees is to host a series of interviews. Talk to various participants at the event, gather information, and if possible record the interview. For attendees who agree to your interviews, this provides a great opportunity to talk to people, get their contact information, and even make yourself well-known in the field as well. The information you gather can be great content for company websites, blogs, social media channels, marketing videos, or podcasts.
4. Connect Attendees Through Social Media
While social media is an excellent way to connect with friends and family, it can also be a powerful tool used to network at conferences and engage with other influencers in your field. Take the time to use social media during the conference. During the presentations you attend, tweet, share thoughts on Facebook, post on LinkedIn, etc. Designate hashtags for conference-goers to use, which makes it easy for attendees to connect with one another, engage with other individuals, and share their thoughts on ideas and information presented at the conference. By making it simple for attendees to be active on various social media channels during the conference, they have more opportunities to network and maintain those connections weeks and months following the event.
5. Create Small Group Meet-Ups to Facilitate Networking
It is a lot less intimidating for some to meet people in small groups than it is to wade into a sea of conference attendees in a ballroom alone. Create popular topics of discussion and have a networking area with tables where attendees can discuss. If you can, invite moderators to each table to guide the discussion. Use online sign-up tools to fill seats and use the information you gather to match people together based on their interests.
6. Host A Post-Event Happy Hour or Dinner
Networking doesn’t stop when the show floor closes or the last presenter shuts off her laptop. After a full day of keynotes and workshops and checking out booths, conference attendees will likely look forward to after-hours events. Host a happy hour or a dinner and make it an invitation-only event. Attendees will have the chance to network in a smaller, more private settings and perhaps deepen the connections they made earlier in the day.
Remember that the more you put into networking, the more you will get out of it. Use the above suggestions to help your attendees successfully network and get more out of their entire conference experience.
Interested in learning more about SMS as a networking tool for events? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-696-1393.