Technology and social media have changed the face of events. In the past, everyone would attend an event unaware of who they would meet. But luckily nowadays you can see who is attending an event via Facebook, LinkedIn, or any one of the many amazing event software technologies out there—etouches, for example.
Let’s look at the past and present methods of networking and what is not working by today’s standards.
The foundation of communicating at networking events and making new connections include the following two principles:
1. Business card exchange
2. Good old’ fashion socializing
Business Card Exchange
To begin with, business card exchanges is the best tried and tested way of exchanging contact information. Yes, it works, but you have to be driven, dedicated, and most importantly, follow up to make it work. With new technology, the extra steps of data-entry, “Nice to meet you” email is eliminated—which is usually the most time-consuming portion, as it needs to be sent to “n” number of people.
Traditional method: Exchanging business cards at events.
Ineffective method: For people who forget to carry their business cards or run out of them at events, this method does not work. Modern technology is definitely needed and useful in this type of situation.
Modern method: Whether it’s using a sharing-contact-information app, like “Bump” or using more intuitive event tools, like “Badge2Match”, connecting with other professionals at live events is easier than ever. Badge2Match asks users to fill out a survey; the answers are used to “introduce” event attendees to others who share similar interests.
Traditional method: Socializing can be tricky. To be successful, you need to have a certain type of personality that requires an extroverted demeanor and the ability to strike interesting conversation with anyone. Additionally, you need to have that special knack of knowing when to move on from a conversation and how to wrap it up to get the business card or contact information.
Ineffective method: If you are an introvert, shy and not as bold, this is not a preferred method of networking, thus making it an unsuccessful approach.
Modern method: “Mingle 360”, is a tool with so much versatility, mobile app, QR code integration, iPad integration, as well as USB “Mingle stick” ability. Their mantra is: The Mingle360 networking solution creates incredible buzz and excitement for your events. The Mingle Stick is a great social icebreaker and business utility tool.
While exchanging business cards are the most notoriously known ways to network, the best approach often depends on the type of event.
1. Educational Conferences
2. Trade shows
Traditional method: Educational events are usually tough to crack. The old method and standard room set at education events entails a theater-style seating arrangement with speakers on stage and audience members listening but not necessarily interacting with each other.
Ineffective method: It is a shame that many professionals in attendance at the same education session most often share the same interests and objectives. By not promoting interaction, the old way of seating attendees is just not working!
Modern method: Conference/event-specific software like CrowdVine, help the event’s attendees connect prior to the start of the event. It integrates Facebook and LinkedIn for attendees to see which of their contacts are attending the show, features attendee profiles, and encourages group communication. This way, again, you start establishing relationships and building a rapport with people in advance. Another new way of networking at education events is simple: how the education session is set-up. Interactive panel discussion set-ups help attendees engage in conversations with speakers as well as fellow attendees.
Traditional method: Trade shows often operate like marketplaces. Attendees can choose to pass by an exhibitor, making it very difficult for companies to network with business prospects. Hosted buyer programs have solved this issue, but only slightly. The deep connection or relationship may not be there because hosted buyers can choose to skip their appointment or only meet to satisfy their quota.
Ineffective method: These traditional ways that trade shows are operating do not yield results for those exhibitors investing hundreds of dollars to get in front of the right buyers.
Modern method: In today’s event technology landscape there are many solutions that solve this trade show conundrum so exhibitors can have the best sales and networking experiences possible. A great option is Showmappr, which optimizes the trade show experience with a dynamic event map that shows different levels of activity, live stream of comments from attendees, QR check-ins for exhibitors, and more. Using buzz-producing apps like this one gives attendees an incentive to visit and learn about exhibitors.
The list of technology and software solutions goes on and on. Along with utilizing social media as a tool to connect—whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn–networking with business professionals is more efficient than ever before. Couple online interaction with face-to-face interaction and the combination is irrefutable. Building rapport with a key professional on social media first, then in person, is a new normal, and a smart tactic to apply for successful networking.