5 Tips for Adding Networking to Your Event

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Networking, MPI, EMEC
Rather than leave networking to chance, follow these techniques.

Many delegates come to an event to meet new people but not all of them know how to network correctly. Therefore you need to help them a bit.

During Meeting Professionals International’s European Meetings & Events Conference this spring, attendees brainstormed on ways to incorporate networking into the event, with the help of facilitator Mike van der Vijver. Their 5  ideas will help with your events, too:

1) Start with 3 questions

During the EMEC session, facilitator Mike van der Vijver placed delegates into pairs and had them come up with three questions they could use to open a conversation when meeting a new person. Then he let them ask these questions and give each other their feedback. After the session, the EMEC delegates were equipped with powerful conversation-opening questions.

2) Speed networking

Prepare a list of lighthearted questions for your delegates such as “What do you like about your hometown? What was your favorite subject in high school?” For each one-minute networking round, make your attendees walk around the room and find a person to whom they can briefly tell their name and then ask the question. When the time is up, give them the next question and ask them to find another person.

3) Discussion tables

Divide your audience into groups of 5-8, assign them a discussion topic and let them share their knowledge and experience with one another for 10 minutes. When the time is up, make them choose another table with a new topic and new participants. The conversations will naturally continue after the session is over.

4) Seat swap

This is probably the easiest trick you could think of. Don’t let your attendees sit next to the same people throughout the entire day. Make them change their seats after the breaks and introduce themselves to the participants sitting next to them.

5) Networking guidelines

In front of the venue, put up a banner with the networking guidelines that clearly explains which introduction tactics are given a thumbs up and which are frowned upon. This helps to set the right expectations and encourages attendees to make new friends.

Source: Meeting Design Institute

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.