Impact Publications : MiceBTN_60
MICEBTN - AUGUST 2015 • Page 75 For more articles and complimentary eBooks by Robyn Henderson, visit www. networkingtowin. com.au Don’t leave networking to chance ... it’s too good an opportunity to do business By Robyn Henderson WHEN delegates are asked why they attend conferenc- es, networking normally is one of the top three rea- sons. Yet many conference organisers leave networking to chance, missing golden opportunities to maximise value for delegates. As a professional conference organiser or event manager, are you ensuring your delegates can maxim- ise their networking possibilities, or do you leave it to delegates to do it themselves? Let’s look at ways to affordably and time-efficiently create long-lasting networking connections at events: 1. Identification: Name tags are a MUST for networking and keeping track of delegates when there are multiple events being held at the same venue. A minimum of 24 point font is needed. Providing a delegate list with the names and email addresses of partici- pants, speakers and sponsors is a good idea (with a request for confidentiality and privacy, of course). A head shot photo with each name helps first class networking. Also, the emcee can encourage delegates to mark off the names of the people they have met and highlight the names of the people they want to meet. 2. Colour coding: Say you’re attend- ing an agricultural conference with growers, researchers, sponsors and suppliers attending. Colour coding such as yellow for growers, blue for sponsors, green for researchers and pink for suppliers lets everyone know who’s who. 3. Structured connection time: Allow a 20 to 30-minute spot for making connections. Supply pads and ask each person to write down two things that they need help with, whether it’s work related or personal. Then organise a slow networking session where dele- gates approach a person in the room and discuss their ‘ask for help’. Giving people a focus for their connection with the ‘ask for help’ theme means tapping in to the other person’s wisdom and connections. The ‘ask for help’ network- ing sessions have been a great success for me. 4. Seating: Banquet-style rounds of 8 or 10 people facilitate better com- munication (and cross-networking opportunities are easier when tables are numbered). This also allows organisers to put two different numbers on the back of delegates’ name tags. These will show the table number for the first plenary and a different table number for the second plenary. A seating plan may be necessary for the formal dinner, but allocating table numbers is a simple way to fast track networking opportunities during the meeting. A board or com- mittee member can ‘host’ each table and encourage delegates to introduce themselves and exchange business cards. Returning from an event with the names and contact details of people who want to help you is a great benefit for the company. Don’t leave conference networking to chance. These simple, time efficient ideas really work.