In a blink of an eye, six weeks have passed since the last Backstage Pass, our community event for organisers, was held at Lowercase! For our fourth session, we were magically whisked to the land of the Caribbean nestled in the heart of Singapore at Lime House.
With the Peatix app in hand, organisers of events across a spectrum of genres checked-in with ease, then proceeding to satisfy their appetites with a delectable Caribbean platter whilst soaking in the ambient music courtesy of our partner, Spotify.
Animated chatter amongst organisers catching up or meeting with each other for the first time simmered to a murmur as our speakers for the evening took to the spotlight.
Creating and facilitating a great event networking experience
Grace Clapham (Founder of Change Ventur.es) and Solonia Teodros (Founder of SolWorks) kickstarted their session with a quick networking activity, getting us all to share with each other in a minute about who we are, a secret we keep and a guilty pleasure we have. It was really effective in breaking the ice! They then teamed up to share four tips on creating and facilitating a great event networking experience.
Curate the right types of people to come to your event, from partners to sponsors to collaborators, to create a great event experience for your attendees to network within.
2. Engage and facilitate
Firstly, its important that you understand your group’s dynamics to engage and facilitate networking – for example, think about how you can ensure the introverts push their boundaries whilst the extroverts take a step back and allow others the opportunity to shine.
You could also try out different techniques to facilitate interaction. For example, getting your attendees to pick a name out of the hat, of whom they’ll have lunch with, or look through the list of attendees and understand who they’d like to connect with and make sure the connection happens during your event, or giving out toolkits to get people to discuss ideas and solutions together.
3. Creating the experience
At the end of it, no matter what type of event you organise, it’s all about creating the right experience, giving new inspiration, creating value, and placing yourselves in the shoes of your attendees and considering what they’ll want out of an event that will get people coming back for more. Here are three things to consider to create an environment for networking to occur organically:
– It’s in the little details. Name tags work great for allowing interactions to happen organically, even at the 8am Creative Mornings meetup that Grace organises.
– Put together like-minded individuals, throw out a cause for people to gather together and you’ll find that networking then happens quite naturally.
– It’s a fine balancing act between structure and having a community feel (i.e. keeping it natural) to networking but having some structure works (e.g. facilitating networking activities) to first break the ice and get people talking but keep it simple.
4. Going with the flow
Sometimes unforeseeable things happen even if you plan a lot. Be willing to embrace that and go with the flow!
How to keep the momentum going with your community before and post event
Creating a great event networking experience also involves curating your attendees, that is, to attract people who are both highly engaged and influential to attend.
Jonathan Kwan (Founder of Audacity) shared a matrix to help segment our past and potential attendees into four groups based on their level of influence and engagement within our event genre: Engage, chill, pamper, and maintain. Different strategies of connecting are taken with each group. Naturally, we’d want attendees who are highly engaged and influential to attend our events but reality is, they’re few and far between. More likely than not, most potential attendees would lie within the “engage” and “maintain” segments so those will be the groups we’ll want to focus on and push into the “pamper” quadrant to get them excited and spreading the word on our behalf about our next event, and even influencing others to attend! How do we do that?
For those in the “engage” quadrant, we’ll want to do as it says, engage with these highly influential people one-on-one and help them buy-in and relate to your idea or cause or topic that your event’s focused on. For those in the “maintain” quadrant, maintain your relationship with them through sending emails, cards, buying them a coffee, and simply letting them know you’re thinking about them, not just at New Year’s. Thankfully they’re already highly engaged, but having influence is out of your control so hopefully they will one day be of influence.
The take-home: Continue to engage with your community and keep connecting in a personal way.
Till next time
With insightful learnings from our three speakers at Backstage Pass, rum punch to savour over whilst meeting with other organisers after the talks, plus a free 3-month Spotify premium gift card to take home, we’re pretty sure everyone got something valuable out of attending.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on announcements about the next Backstage Pass! Or follow us on Peatix to be notified straightaway once the event is open for registration. Here’s a hint on what’s in the works – we’re going local next!
Top image credit: Lime House