As event managers, we know the overwhelming feeling of having an event’s success put squarely on our shoulders. We feel responsible for everything going smoothly (or at least seemingly so!) — and for everyone having a great time.
It’s hard to keep your eyes on every little moment at your event, especially when it comes networking, a key factor that will make or break an event in many attendees’ minds. Sure, you can set up various types of networking forums (cocktail hours and industry breakfasts, among others), but you can only do so much.
That’s where your fearless team steps in. They are your secret networking weapon and can help create connections in a variety of ways — both in your event app and in the actual conference hall.
Lead the In-App Conversation
Employees should be your event app champions. That means taking a bit of the medicine their event managers follow to create conversations online:
- Don’t just download the app — use it!: Suggest that employees set up their profiles, link their social media accounts, and follow prospects and customers, and set up 1:1 meetings while their onsite.
- Seed the conversation: Encourage your team and subject matter experts (like product managers) to drop into topic channels, respond to questions, react to sessions or create their own channels around topics that interest them. Event managers can also create channels to gather attendee data about specific topics. We do this within our apps for DoubleDutch events to spark conversations that we need to better understand through the eyes of our attendees.
- Take the convo offline: Participation in channel discussions and other in-app activity often leads to even more impactful interactions: face-to-face meetings. While it may be natural for sales and account managers to set up meetings, logistics are often a nightmare. The event app can serve as great matchmaker by using machine learning to recommend meetings with like-minded attendees.
- Put a face to the lead: Integrations with Marketo, Salesforce and other tools sales and marketing teams already use make it easy to track leads onsite. These integrations can alert employees when a customer or prospect, say, checks into a particular section or trigger an automated follow-up email based on a poll response.
The Basics of Hospitality
Getting your employees active in the app is crucial, but it’s also important to make sure connections happen offline, too. The appeal of live events are just that — they’re live. It’s the ability to put a face to a name (or lead). Schmoozing between sessions. Karaoke at the after party, or a knowing nod over breakfast the next morning.
Your team should play the part of gracious, polite hosts. It doesn’t take much effort, after all: Be present in the real world in addition to being engaged digitally. Make attendees feel welcome. Answer questions, or make a quick introduction to the stranger at lunch who’s staring at everybody’s lanyards. And, of course, upload a selfie in your app profile and let other attendees know you’re ready to help.
The bottom line: Employees are your biggest asset to create a healthy networking environment at your events. They are often the ones who can get the conversation going, or bridge the gap for attendees between online conversations and lasting, offline connections.