An atmosphere for meaningful networking is the currency for the marketplace of connections. Everyone has been to events that are bankrupt of the "choose people" message. Attendees often sit alone, are hooked on SmartPhones, and do not take advantage of meeting the people all around them. If the agenda is only focused on the data dump from experts, then opportunity is lost. While nobody wants "fluffy", it can not just be about content. People want to become engaged and involved while at an event.
Human to human inaction is hard to quantity, but when it all comes together the event is transformed into an "industry happening". You can identify this power by the energy level at breaks, meals and happy hours. Nobody wants to leave an "industry happening" early to beat the traffic out of the parking lot.
Companies that host client meetings and "users conferences" which are focused on the people in the audience over their commercial always find success. The best trade associations crush the "power cliques" and know that their members want to be part of a greater community. Trade shows that cultivate a "mini-society" that is welcoming are the ones that high numbers of people returning year after year.
It is not easy to create the event that everyone in your industry talks about when they get home. Executives of companies and associations all desire their meeting to be an "industry happening", but wishing will never spur the culture of the event to transcend average. There must be a vision and a plan.
If your organization has a meeting, do not allow it to be standard. Cutting edge meeting planners are excited to try new things and seek new ideas. They ask questions of those who attend and plan other events for the "best practices" that are working at other conferences. They read the surveys filled out at previous programs and seek to identify the between the lines messages. They take action.... Passive planning makes for dull events.
Planning a meeting is a hard job and not something that should be left to the last minute. If a conference is a marketplace for connecting, then send your attendees in with the tools to succeed in a relationship economy.
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com