Networking is an important part of any meeting. Use these quick tips to encourage attendee interaction and help networking happen more easily and organically.
1. Be flexible. Make room in the events schedule for networking and time for attendees to mingle — don't pack things too tight.
2. Set up targeted roundtable discussions. During online registration, add a few extra fields for attendees to complete, such as company size, interests, industry, etc. Then have attendees sign up for roundtable discussions before the event and group them by their similarities to encourage natural networking opportunities.
3. Use social media. Designate a hashtag for your event for attendees to use on Twitter and Instagram. This way, they can easily follow what other attendees are doing, posting and discussing.
4. Introduce attendees to each other. Host a new attendee event/orientation or another type of networking event/happy hour before the meetings begin.
5. Go beyond the basic name tag. Create name badges that include extra tidbits of information, like attendees' hometowns (or current town) or number of years in the industry. This can spark conversation among your groups.
6. Create a gathering place. Set up a technology hub or lounge area with chairs and/or couches (similar to an Internet café) so attendees can still stay connected even when taking a break. Bonus tip: Do this on your exhibit floor to keep attendees around.
7. Think strategically when serving food. If possible, opt for passed hors d'oeuvres instead of food stations so attendees don't crowd around food tables. This way, they can mix and mingle throughout the area.