When it comes to job hunting these days, it’s all about who you know. CNBC reports that up to 80% of jobs are filled through networking, and even further, 70% of jobs aren’t publicly posted in the first place. With so many professionals looking to move up, change fields or become their own bosses, networking sessions, be they virtual, hybrid or in-person, are must-attend events.
Harness the ever-changing job market by hosting a networking event that connects guests and creates community. In this article, we give you tips for hosting your next networking session.
Set the scene for a lively in-person networking event by creating virtual networking opportunities before the fact. There are few simpler icebreakers than “Hey, I totally agree with your forum post from the other day,” or “I recognize you from your profile” – online networking makes it easier to facilitate connection IRL.
Use your event management software to create an event portal, landing page or mobile app that promotes attendee engagement. From user profiles that allow guests to list their occupation, organization and professional goals to groups with conversation threads that get guests talking, event tech tools that allow attendees to take networking into their own hands before, during and after your session spell success.
What’s better than free food and drinks? While the promise of libations will get some guests in the door, providing food and drinks is a great way to make your event space more networking-friendly. Watch your attendees congregate around the snack table and strike up organic conversations.
Food and drinks are a sneaky way for you to work in event sponsorship, too. To add to your networking event’s budget, seek out hospitality sponsors to provide high-quality offerings in exchange for a presence at your event and facetime with attendees. Like sponsorship deals usually are, it’s a win-win-win for you, your sponsors and your guests.
Name badges are an obvious part of any networking event, but execution is everything. Instead of having guests write their own names on a peel-and-stick nametag, no matter how illegible their handwriting is, consider making bespoke name badges ahead of time.
There are a couple benefits to printed badges. A legible badge makes it easier for guests to confidently greet one another by name (and identify who they chatted with on your event’s website ahead of time!). Plus, badges that list a guest’s employer, location or even a fun fact (favorite thing to do in the host city? astrological sign? their favorite show on TV right now?) create a built-in icebreaker.
Also, this may or may not be the perfect segue to tease our brand new badges that we are going to be releasing very soon! 👀
Sure to be a game-changer for onsite events, PheedLoop's new direct thermal badges are the most environmentally-friendly option, with recyclable card stocks. Unlike before where you were required to stick on PVC labels separately onto your plastic badges, you are now able to print your attendees' names directly on these direct thermal badges, making your event look more put-together, organized and professional. Not to mention, direct feed makes the entire check-in experience even faster than before! More info on this to come in the following weeks once we announce an official release. 😁
As the organizer of a networking event, be it a networking event on Zoom, a traditional mixer or a speed networking session, meeting each guest will allow you to play a role in facilitating valuable connections. Meeting every guest puts them at ease and makes them feel welcome in the networking space you’re creating – ask questions about their profession, their career goals and what kinds of connections they’re looking for in order to get the conversations going.
Once you know a bit about each guest, you can play matchmaker. Look for opportunities to introduce guests with complementary goals or professional backgrounds. It’ll make your attendees feel seen and heard.
Using staff from your team, or volunteers, to serve as “anchors” at your event creates a welcoming environment and diffuses any networking event awkwardness. Anchors connect with the wallflowers, getting to know more about each guest and making introductions to get conversations flowing. Choose anchors who you know are friendly, warm and able to take a genuine interest in others to help attendees get the most out of the event.
As mentioned, custom event apps are great for pre-event networking, but apps have such a wide range of applications that it’s just smart event planning to invest in one for your next networking event. Not only can you engage guests with polls, forums and instant messaging, but a custom app is the perfect centralized hub for event info. Event registration, day-of announcements, event schedules and digital check-in are just a few ways you can utilize an app.
PheedLoop makes it easy to set up a sophisticated event app that’s fully integrated with your event management systems. For your next networking session, use PheedLoop to guarantee engagement and ease of use.
You could host a free-wheeling, agenda-less event where attendees are expected to take networking into their own hands, but a networking event with a few planned activities facilitates connection without the pressure of breaking the ice. To get your guests to stay until the end, plan a giveaway or raffle, a keynote by an industry guest or a round of speed networking and introductions before you let your guests loose.
The key is to not overwhelm your guests with a jam-packed event schedule. Ultimately, your attendees want to have real, in-depth conversations with their peers, so choose your games and activities wisely to maximize connection. A balance between planned activities and free time to mingle will guarantee that your guests stay until the very end.
As all event professionals know, the event doesn’t end when you leave the venue or close the Zoom window. To get both quantitative (app engagement, turnout, ) and qualitative data (what your attendees liked, didn’t like, what they’d want to see more of next time), use your event management platform to your advantage. PheedLoop allows you to create and manage email campaigns, track KPIs and gather attendee responses for a comprehensive look at your event’s performance.
On a more personal level, leverage that event app to foster an event community and keep the conversation going long after your networking session. When your app or site becomes a useful tool for industry professionals to connect and form relationships, you boost engagement and see repeat guests as a result.
Professionals across all industries know that networking is how career-changing relationships are made. Facilitate these connections with a great networking event tailored to your attendees.
Through custom apps, hybrid functionality and simple ways to track your event’s outcomes, PheedLoop can help make your next networking session a success.