How to host a brilliant networking event

Networking is often cited as the second biggest reason delegates attend conferences – content, unsurprisingly, getting top billing. So if you’re holding an event give your attendees what they want and attach a networking session onto the schedule. Not sure how to make it work? We can help…

1. Timing

Don’t leave your networking session to the end of the day as you’re bound to lose some delegates who’ve decided to go home early due ‘conference fatigue’. Similarly, don’t choose a slot first thing in the morning as your guests will want a little time to warm up and those who are uncomfortable with the idea will simply not show up. Sandwich your networking session in between two of your unmissable talks to produce the highest attendance numbers.

2. Pre-event prep

Give your invitees warning about the session and share details of their fellow attendees’ names and job titles well in advance of the day. This will give them a chance to do some research and prepare themselves for introductions. You could also encourage your invitees to join an online community – for example by liking your event’s Facebook page – which will give people the chance to reach out to each other before the event.

3. Catering

Combining your networking session with lunch is a great way to entice a large audience. Everyone is going to need to eat, plus table full of food and drink creates opportunities for your guests who don’t know each to break the ice over polite chit chat about the spread.
Give your guests the best chance to eat and mingle with food that doesn’t need them to sit down or to use a knife. Give overly garlicy or spicy dishes a wide berth and use poseur tables in your space so attendees can rest drinks down while they eat and chat. It’s best not to have any seats as this will keep your guests circulating and making contact with more than just one person.

4. Name badges

As you give your guests name badges at registration, make a point of asking them to keep it clearly on display for the networking session.

5. Entertainment

If you’re nervous about the room being a little stagnant, provide some entertainment, live music or even just a background playlist to create some atmosphere.

6. Introductions

As an organiser you need to do more than just set the wheels in motion at a networking event. You might have seasoned minglers in your midst who know how to work the room, but you might also have individuals who don’t find the situation easy to navigate. Make sure you are present throughout the networking session and take the time to help make introductions. You should also aim to speak to every single one of your guests, simply to thank them for coming.

7. Follow up

Contact your guests after the event and find out how they think the networking session went. Did they find and meet the people they wanted to? If not, it’s not a wasted opportunity as you can put them in touch after the conference.

Your next event at W12 Conferences

Whether you’re gathering a small number of colleagues together for a training session or holding a full day of talks and seminars for industry peers, we’ll have spaces to suit your needs. Give the Event Team a call on +44 (0)20 3313 1606 to discuss your dates.