Networking With Purpose
InVision believes that more meaningful connections can be made by networking with purpose. By considering context, we can create satisfying networking activities and deliver a more fulfilling experience overall. Networking is one of the primary reasons people attend events; attendees value opportunities to meet face-to-face with industry peers— to catch up, build new relationships, and share best practices. It’s clear that networking drives business success. That’s why we design experiences with purposeful networking in mind.
To motivate more authentic, more rewarding exchanges, we looked at the goals of attendees and program stakeholders. Both groups are interested in improving performance. The exchange of ideas and best practices is proven to enhance performance, advance career goals and strengthen relationships. A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology shows that a face-to-face request for help is 34 times more effective than email. Connecting face-to-face lays the foundation for those requests.
Attendees’ moods, energy and availability fluctuate over the course of an event—and their participation in networking will vary accordingly. That’s why it’s important to offer a few self-paced and easy-in, easy-out experiences alongside activities that require greater personal involvement. Allow people to participate according to their availability and comfort level. Remember that some people find networking difficult, so include at least one easy activity that even the introverts in the group will want to join.
We surveyed dozens of networking activities and mapped our favorites into a time and state-of-mind graph (see opposite) to show how context influences the choice of tactics.
To Create More Purposeful Networking Activities:
• Appeal to attendees’ desire to exchange help, face-to-face
• Harness that natural motivation to boost networking energy
• Consider context: time of day, conference agenda and attendee availability
• Create activities that are purposeful and deliver specific results
• Incorporate networking into breakout sessions, demonstrations, labs, etc.
• Consider the amount of commitment or structure required for participation
• Make participation optional and voluntary; let people choose activities that feel natural
Design your networking activities with purpose. By creatively applying varied tactics at different points in a program, we’re able to create more meaningful connections among attendees—and stronger connections to your brand. If you’d like to learn more about designing networking activities that satisfy, empower, and inspire attendees to do more, contact InVision at email@example.com. We’ll get face-to-face and take it from there!
At InVision, we apply different networking tactics depending on audience and context. Below, we explain a few of our favorite activities designed to get people to interact with each other in more purposeful, meaningful ways. We’ve got many more ideas in our inspiration bank, so let us know if you’d like to explore more effective ways of networking at your next event.
- Matchmaking/ “Brain Dates”: We match people based on their expertise, needs and potential for a successful connection—much like a traditional matchmaker would do – only we use technology. Matched pairs meet up for conversations about topics they have pre-specified as top-of-mind. These match-ups offer attendees tremendous value developing relevant, mutually advantageous connections.
- Each One, Teach One: In this lightning round activity, attendees share and learn new skills from one other. People are asked in advance to bring a life/work hack to the table—something that can be explained in under two minutes—and share it with a partner. Once partners swap tips, they each move on to new partners – until everyone has met. This activity is a fun way to break the ice with groups, and create meaningful connections.
- “Museum” Experience: This curated experience presents content in a visual, dynamic style—much like a museum would. Interesting exhibits become ‘conversation pieces,’ drawing people to interact with one another as they browse the space. We recommend using tactile experiences, unusual scale and movement to draw people into the exhibits and encourage participation. This self-paced experience works well for both large groups or individuals, engaging at a level most comfortable for them.
- Walk-and-Talk: Movement and the act of being in motionhas been shown to help people feel more relaxed and open up, which is essential for successful networking. Walk-and-talk works well for random pairs as well as those with similar interests as a low-cost, flexible way to drive conversation and interactions amongst attendees.
- Sampling: Sharing a new experience with other people creates natural connections and organic conversations. Create sampling opportunities (food-related or activity-based) that appeal to people’s natural curiosity—small samples that awaken and excite the senses. Users will walk away having experienced a fun, interactive, and memorable experience.
- Alter Egos (AR): This networking activity opens attendees up to a differentkind of conversation by encouraging people to express their personalities and careabouts using costumes, alter egos or augmented reality avatars. It’s an entertaining way to “level the playing field” and get people in a variety of roles to share their perspectives.
- “UN-Conference” Sessions: Driven by participants rather than featured speakers, ad-hoc UnConference sessions offer an easy, low-cost, comfortable forum for attendees to exchange their ideas in a casual environment. Sessions can be organized on-site (via bulletin boards, sticky notes, etc.) giving like-minded people a casual way to connect with one another to discuss the topics that are most relevant to them.
- Photo Activities: Groups work together in small teams to compose a special photobook, magazine or album cover. The creative process – from brainstorming, to finalizing the ideas, to executing the project – allows team members to learn more about each other and exchange ideas in a collaborative environment. The activity can be designed to support a specific theme while serving as a souvenir of the team’s time spent together.
- Shared Transit: When transportation is a necessity as part of an event agenda, create another opportunity for networking by having attendees share a bus or Uber ride to a desired destination. The intimate, close quarters and “captive” environment provides an opportunity for the gift of gab!
Want to learn more about how you can create networking opportunities that offer a more meaningful impact? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!