I attended a great webinar the other day on how to supercharge your networking activities from the folks at NXUnite.
The following are my notes in no specific order based on a series of questions they asked and answered.
Why is it critical for networking at your events?
- It’s a top result from surveys and a top benefit.
- Relevance bringing our members together.
- It is hard to measure. Getting with folks just like you who understand the world you live in. Celebration, collaboration, and share failures with your peers too!
- Don’t forget to let technology allow for other ways to network during your events.
- Our job is to create the space to have our member’s network and learn from each other.
How can we help our members authentically engage versus just showing up?
- Scheduling is key. Make it a priority! Plan with intent not just having a reception. Have a plan to bring your member’s closer together. Issue based, geographic, etc., are a couple of ways to segment your networking.
- Remember, this is a big part of the reason your members are attending your events.
- It can’t be frivolous or just have a “cheese plate.”
- Maybe have a speaker or sponsor in the room and introduce them with a fun fact! It’s a great way to get the networking started.
- “Ask me about (attendee fills out something unique about themselves” on name tags. It’s a fun networking starter.
Difference between in-person and online networking?
- You can do both, but you need to be intentional. You need to build spaces for the networking to take place.
- It’s not about having an open chat room online. Be specific on the reason for any rooms you’ve created online.
- Focus on the experience your members will have online. You need to figure out what your members want. Remember, online, you can only have one person talking at any one-time vs in-person where everyone can be interacting.
How should you evaluate your current networking activities?
- Look at your AMS data, registration data, and folks who may have uploaded their profiles.
- Ask specific questions in your follow up survey. Find out which members want the networking and learn from them by digging deeper on who they are.
Advice for upping the Annual Meeting networking?
- Coffee breaks, be intentional on how you can use this time wisely.
- Create an experience that your member may not be expecting. Do you have an element of surprise in your networking events.
- Promote your networking events but hold back that surprise element.
- If you have an awards program as part of your event? Do it on the front end not on the backend so people can react and network with that person in the next day or two.
- Gift giving networking event? You have to get someone a drink or they have to get you one as an ice breaker.
- Not all of your attendees want to network, so don’t force it on people, but make sure you do focus on networking for those who want it.
- If you can survey your folks before your event for what they want, try to respond with what they’ve told you.
- Involve your sponsors in these networking events and they may also have ideas they’ve experienced somewhere else that you could integrate.
- Introverts could thrive in your online networking where they may feel overwhelmed at an in-person event, something to think about.
- Don’t forget to use your name tags as a networking opportunity.