The power of B2B networking in today’s business climate isn’t overstated. As B2B events continue to evolve, there are ever more ways for organizers to foster connections among their attendees. Whether it’s two attendees seeking some one-on-one time or a group of likeminded individuals looking for a shared experience, there are a myriad of ways to provide attendees with interactions they crave. Here’s a look at five B2B networking event ideas.
Curated group meet-ups
Attendees with similar roles or interests are likely to seek each other out at business events. So why not give them a boost by creating networking meet-ups specifically curated for their needs. Intuit employs this approach at QuickBooks Connect. The conference focus is to reposition the software-focused brand to a small business solutions ecosystem. QuickBooks helps attendees make connections in ways that are familiar, like at a local establishment. The brand provides curated meet-up zones like replica cafés and pubs. To add a B2B networking punch, QuickBooks adds a layer of engagement by incorporating real small businesses into the meet-ups, like Death Wish Coffee serving signature beverages in the café.
Another increasingly popular trend at large conferences, like C2 Montréal, is the Braindate. The concept developed by Montréal-based e-180, is a digital matchmaking platform that helps like-minded attendees with similar interests connect one-on-one. Although it’s accessed on various platforms, Braindate is an app-based platform on which attendees post simple questions or topics of interest. When an attendee sees a post about a mutual interest, a simple click reveals a calendar with open slots on both schedules and a meeting time is set—instant B2B networking! It’s a great way for attendees to network at their own pace at large-scale business events.
Sometimes attendees need to get away from the conference to a more relaxed environment to loosen up and mingle. Lions Clubs International leverages an off-site welcome reception for a small group of attendees to foster networking ahead of its annual convention. Attendees are grouped by language and asked to create a large-scale artwork depicting its motto, “We Serve.” The shared experience not only helps group members bond, but also prompts questions to other participating groups about their approach to the experience.
Today most business conferences employ a mobile app. Apps make it easy to build attendee connections before, during and after the event. Savvy brands create app-based calls-to-action to encourage networking well before the event. Features like speaker bios, attendee directories, private messaging, and private social networks are all great networking tools and easily integrated into event apps. The key is to make attendees aware of networking features and encourage them to download the app well in advance of the conference.
Smart badges, created by companies like Klik and Proxfinity, help event managers drive attendee connections right from the get-go. Proxfinity’s smart, wearable badges communicate with one another and ping wearers when an attendee with mutual interests is in close proximity. Each wearer’s initials appear on corresponding badges as colored lights on each badge identify the common interest. And if that’s not enough, the smart badges also record meet-up locations and dwell times.
Smart B2B networking ideas overcome lots of issues from attendee shyness to work email overload. Break through by simply providing the right tools and experiences that encourage meaningful connections. Pave the way for more engaging conversations and a more successful event.
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