One thing we consistently hear about from clients is the need to improve networking at conferences. Many event managers and conference organisers believe that networking is a tool that can be used to increase delegate interactions and overall engagement at their event. After attending (and planning) hundreds of events ourselves, we agree! We’d also like to add: networking doesn’t have to be done by an exchange of business cards. In fact, virtual handshakes can be powerful engagement tools as well.
The Impact of Networking
Can you imagine the impact it would make to your conference if delegate engagement and interaction were a smashing success?
Delegate engagement and connections can lead to increased positive praise of the event, more word of mouth sharing about their experience, and higher chances of getting return attendees.
It can also help all attendees make the connections that can take them (or their business) to the next level. That’s the kind of “priceless” impact every conference holds the potential to give to its attendees.
So how does one increase network opportunities at an event?
Traditional Event Networking
Well, you may remember preparing for an event by taking some time to look through the delegate list to see who you’d like to connect with. You possibly did a bit of research on their experiences and connections, and likely had business cards on hand to exchange.
This isn’t new, right? (Do you remember the printed delegate list being in your satchel when you arrived at a conference? Okay, maybe I’m showing my age!)
We usually expect to exchange business cards with each other at networking events, and they’re incredibly common. Lately, however, we’ve noticed that these cards often end up floating around on the floor, or left behind on tables. (We must confess we’ve been guilty of depositing them into the recycle bin at home too!)
The reality is, printed business cards just don’t make as much sense as they used to! Plus, the environmental and financial costs of printing up-to-date business cards must be considered. Maybe in our modern age, there is a new way to network?
Networking with Virtual Handshakes
What would you say if we were to tell you that there is a way to exchange information that is sustainable and affordable? Not only that, but it is as simple as a virtual handshake.
No more saving numbers into your phone, or leaving a conference with a collection of business cards and forgetting who is who.
Do we have your attention now?
Virtual handshakes are just one amazing function of our event app. (We’ve been talking about event apps quite a bit lately, because they are truly the future!) This virtual handshake is a sustainable way of exchanging information, as well as a new way for delegates to network.
Here’s how it works.
Once inside the event app, you (and any other attendee) can build your own profile. This serves as your virtual business card, and can include a photo and any other relevant information you want to share with others. (Like most online tools, it’s easy to modify, make additions, and customise this profile to best represent you.)
You can also include easy to use links so your connections can easily email you, or even connect via a social network, straight from the app.
In addition to viewing your own profile, you’ll also be able to “see” other attendees and their virtual business cards. The conference organisers can also set certain functions to help create connections.
By creating tags (Speaker, CEO, Account Exec, etc), users can more easily find the people they most desire to connect with. The app even has a smart function that allows it to suggest connections for users, based on profiles!
One more fun thing: You will also be able to see what conference events you have in common with other delegates! If you keep noticing the same face (or two) across the room at all your breakout sessions, you can easily connect with one another.
Seal the Deal: Making Virtual Handshakes Happen
So how does the information exchange happen?
Well, it’s as simple as both parties shaking their phones to connect, and then virtually exchanging details!
Imagine standing in a conference room filled with people, shaking your phone, and getting the names, pictures, and bios of others people near you! Rather than aimlessly wandering around, or just “hoping” to bump into someone in a certain industry, you can intentionally approach them! This is the power of using virtual handshakes.
And rather than awkward starter questions that trickle off to nowhere, you can create instant connections:
“Wow! I just saw you received the X award last year. I’d love to hear about your path to success.”
“Hello Miranda, I noticed you’ve attended X conference last year, will you be attending this year’s conference?”
From there on you can start collaborating, sending messages, arranging meetings, and even sharing content during (or after) the conference is finished. By engaging repeatedly with connection you really hit it off with, you’re much more likely to stay connected in the long-term.
Event App Benefits
A huge benefit of using an event app is that your connections will stay on your app for future reference. Although they aren’t event-specific, you will know what event you connected with each person at. This is an amazing plus if you go to lots of events! Once you attend another event, you are able to continue networking with others, all while using the same event app. Over time, this allows you to continue to build your networking circles (rather than a pile of dusty business cards!).