Across industry lines people claim to attend events for the "networking opportunities", but organizers and attendees often forget that this power in connecting with people goes deeper than just collecting business cards or seeking to meet someone who can be of career assistance. It is the sharing of thoughts, ideas, and best practices that can provide the best education.
Standing in line to have a photo taken with a celebrity speaker is nice, but that line should become a moving classroom where the people quiz each other about the nuggets of knowledge they gained from the session. Seeking the perspective of others can often open our own minds to new points of view.
Preparation of event "Networking Time" should include learning objectives, as do the other educational sessions. Helping to educate the audience on how to maximize a conference is part of the success for everyone.
In today's social media and mobile crazy world too many are buried in their iPads and smart-phones and pass on the advantages of enhancing the learning by engaging in meaningful conversations. Some have developed a misunderstanding and adversity to "networking", and that attitude can undermine the culture of a conference.
Talking to your peers is in itself a wonderful way to learn, connect, and improve the ROI of being at the event.
Have A Great Day.
(Hat tip to meeting industry consultant and thought leader, Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw, for inspiring this post after a recent conversation in the hallway at an industry event!).