Are you holding a Networking Event and inviting people from different organisations to attend? If so, spare a moment to consider why people might want to come.
The reason people want to come is to meet people.
But what sort of people do they want to meet?
A Networking Event is not a catch-up with colleagues from the office. Nor is it a catch-up with friends. The purpose of a Business Networking Event is to extend the network of those attending. Whilst your purpose in holding a Business Networking Event might be to extend the network of you and your team, that most certainly is not the reason why those invited to attend do so. They will be attending in order to extend their network – not yours! This very purpose means that they will want – or have been asked by their boss – to meet people they haven’t yet met. “People they haven’t yet met” means they come to the Event to meet Strangers.
Meeting Strangers is a scary prospect for many people. If you see any of the following taking place at your event, you know your guests need some help:
talking to work colleagues or people they know
looking at brochures
looking at or talking on mobile phones
standing on their own
talking to the event team, waiters, bar tenders, entertainers, you
popping in (without staying); saying they have another engagement
It’s clearly in your company’s interest that people are not subjected to the fear that besets so many people at networking events. So how can you put your guests at ease?
If they’ve received some networking training from a trainer, so much they better, but your event will be much less daunting if your guests are not left to wander around hoping they might somehow meet someone relevant to them. You can help them by knowing who is in the room, and where they are located. You can help them by introducing them, so that they don’t have to think about plucking up courage to approach a stranger.
I believe it’s the responsibility of the host organisation to make sure that someone is allocated the role of Introducer, and to do that job – to the exclusion of all other jobs - throughout the event. This way your guests can quickly meet the people they want to meet.
Rachel Fay has pioneered the role of introducing guests at Social and Business functions in contemporary Britain. She is the United Kingdom’s First On-the-spot Introducer at Events. She has worked at Events for the Financial Times and with Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales & The Duchess of Cornwall.
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