Monday, November 19, 2012

Facilitated Networking

Conference planners are looking for unique ways to encourage attendee engagement at corporate and association events.  I am seeing more interest in the discovery of distinct ways to cultivate the personality of meetings.

When I first started speaking about the power of business relationships the topic was viewed as a "nice to have" on an agenda.  Now having meaningful networking at a conference, trade show, convention, seminar and other gathering is necessary for an event to be considered a top tier conference attendee experience.  Facilitating connections is a "must have" if an event is to reach its full potential.

While everyone wants to people to engage, nobody wants hokey networking games. There is a desire to help foster connections among attendees (and vendors, too), but there is also a pervasive fear of silly ice breakers that alienate part of the crowd and make senior executives to roll their eyes at the activities.

"The Conference Catalyst" program is not a facilitated ice breaker in the traditional sense.  When included as part of an event I set the tone for the audience interaction. The presentation is more than a keynote or a breakout session, but is weaved into the schedule to encourage people to take the initiative to get beyond the idle chit-chat and have more fun getting to know each other.

Here is a link to an article written by a technology journalist who was present at a conference where I served as the Conference Catalyst:

He did a great job of telling the story of what can happen when people at an event are open to making real connections.  (If you have an interest in "The Conference Catalyst", please feel free to give me a call so we can discover if it is the right fit for your event).

The atmosphere for networking at a conference does not happen by accident.  Some still believe that an open bar and a good band will help create the bonds that people seek when they participate in the networking events.  But without the understanding that a conference is a "mini-society", too many people fall into bad habits that stifle the desired human-to-human conversations.

Many sit with co-workers the whole time or pass the breaks tapping on their smart phones.  This does not allow the event's culture to blossom.  Introducing a catalyst that transforms traditional networking into something that is experiential is key to having the event become legendary.

There are many ways to facilitate networking without being hokey (you do not need to hire me!)..... but leaving it all to chance is an invitation for the mundane.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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. 

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