Let’s be honest shall we? Networking can be a lot of WORK. After working hard all day the thought of slapping a “Hi My Name Is” stick-on label onto my chest and wading head first into a room filled with strangers and semi-strangers is something that I, and many other people, have come to dread.
Why do so many of us cringe at the thought of attending networking events? I don’t know about you but a lot of the networking events that I attend all seem to follow the same format. It’s an after work function, cocktail cruiser tables and the usual suspects all standing around in the same usual groups, talking about other people standing in their usual groups on the other side of the room.
We don’t think that networking has to BE this hard. I’ve written about networking events and how to make them more palatable a few times here. My business partner, Randy, and I have even hosted a podcast on the subject.
Check out these additional articles and podcasts on networking events:
- NETWORKING IS A BIG PART OF EVENT PLANNING-BUT IS IT DONE RIGHT?
- HOW EVENT NETWORKING ISN’T AS BAD AS YOU THINK
- MASTER THE EVENT PODCAST: PUBLIC SPEAKING AND NETWORKING JITTERS
3 Ideas to Spice up Your Networking Events
- Put an emphasis on learning. Now by learning I’m not saying that you structure your networking event like a classroom. Rather add something fun from your industry. For example, being in the meetings and events industry, I would be interested in learning how to prepare cocktails or maybe make some not-too-difficult hors d’oeuvres that I can even serve at home. If mixology is your thing then have one station that covers wine tasting and wine/food pairing and perhaps another station that deals with scotch tasting. You can even invite some of your local craft breweries to come in showcase their offerings. They love the exposure, not only for their beer but also, many local brewers love to offer up their facilities as a venue for upcoming events. And who doesn’t love a good, locally brewed beer?
- You can encourage people to pitch their industry-relevant products or services and have them set up displays or tables in a separate area so that they’re not intruding on the conversations of those who are not interested in what they have to offer. Be sure your attendees know who is there to promote their products and services and ensure there is sufficient signage to direct them to the displays.
- People are busy and many don’t WANT to give up their Thursday nights to attend work-related functions so think BREAKFAST. Remove another barrier by picking a central location that can be easily accessed by the majority of your attendees – on a transit route or with sufficient parking. And feed them – a good breakfast, with a variety of “healthy” and “not-so healthy but really GOOD” breakfast foods – a breakfast buffet is quick and easy. Schedule an industry-relevant guest speaker – for a short 15-20 minute talk. Find one with a sense of humour or some strong opinions – so your attendees are awake, happy and well fed when they head to work at the end of your event. Give them a GREAT start to their day.