Here’s a thought—attending events is not that useful for businesses.
Not if they spend their time talking to people they already know. Not if the contacts they make aren’t relevant to their industry or target market. And definitely not if they can’t even find and meet those contacts in the first place.
It’s what attendees do during a business-to-business (B2B) event that counts, and the truth is many people have trouble with networking. So it falls to you, the event organizer, to act as a matchmaker.
Business matching is a crucial aspect of organizing B2B meetings, events, conferences, and exhibitions. You can do this by designing nooks conducive to casual chats, planning less-formal activities that encourage collaboration among attendees, and facilitating introductions either in person or through the use of business matchmaking software.
By doing so, you can gain an edge over the competition—which, by the way, is increasing. Any group with a small budget and a social media page can organize and promote a B2B event these days. There are also major industry conferences. Across Asia Pacific, the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions) industry is expected to generate revenue of $441.1 billion in 2025 from $229.0 billion in 2017.
So to stand out amidst the busy event calendar, you need to prove that your event delivers premium value and networking opportunities.
If you need more convincing (or have yet to persuade your boss), here are 12 statistics that show business matching should be taken seriously.
People attend events to make contacts
Fancy tech and elaborate productions—think pyrotechnics, club music, flashing lights—may generate media buzz, but they’re not really the reason people attend B2B events. For many businesses, the main advantage of conferences and trade shows is the opportunity to meet new people.
- 76% of individuals across all generations attend events in order to network (The Decision To Attend)
- 82% of millennials attend events to feel more connected to other people, their community, and the world (The Experience Movement)
- For 82% of corporate event attendees, their priority is business networking (Event MB)
People want to network during events, but need help to do so
Have you ever arrived at an event aiming to make new contacts, but ended up spending most of your time within your own circle instead—or worse, with no one at all?
You’re not alone. While it’s obvious that most event attendees have the desire to network, their ability to do so is a totally different matter. The difficult truth that B2B event organizers must face is that some attendees may go home feeling that their business networking efforts have failed.
- Researchers found that 95% of people at a networking event spent most of their time with people they already knew (Do People Mix at Mixers?)
- Compared to men, women make 42% fewer contacts and 25% fewer LinkedIn connections during traditional networking events in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (An Experimental Assessment of Interventions for Improving Women’s Professional Networking)
- Networking introductions increased the time women spent talking to new contacts at a conference by 66% (An Experimental Assessment of Interventions for Improving Women’s Professional Networking)
Face-to-face meetings are important for expanding one’s network
Video conferencing tools are getting cheaper, allowing people to hold meetings virtually face-to-face without being in the same room or even country. They’re a convenient and cheap way to talk to people wherever they may be.
So why does spending on business travel continue to increase? It’s even expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2022.
Truth is, for all the convenience of video calls, we still desire to shake a business contact’s hands, observe their non-verbals, and cultivate relationships in person.
- 74% of attendees say it’s important/very important to have face-to-face interactions during an event (The Decision To Attend)
- 77% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) prefer in-person business meetings as it allows them to read facial expressions and body language (HubSpot, cited by Evoma)
- 85% of professionals say in-person meetings help them develop more meaningful relationships (The Numbers Behind Networking)
Business networking is crucial to success
Entrepreneurs, C-level executives, and salespeople find that in-person events contribute to their bottom line. This can come in the form of new, quality leads, as well as the chance to meet decision-makers from other companies. For startups, events and informal activities help develop a support network of fellow entrepreneurs.
Such connections have proven to be crucial to the success of businesses, be they early-stage startups or large enterprises.
- 84% of CXOs and vice-presidents say in-person events are a critical contributor to their company’s success (Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends)
- 55% startups say other entrepreneurs met in informal communities or activities are their most crucial source of support (Informal Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Informal Communities)
- 75% of B2B marketers find in-person events effective (Content Marketing Institute)
What do these statistics have to do with business matchmaking?
While networking is generally considered an important part of customer acquisition, sales, and network building, not all businesses succeed in this. In fact, as these statistics show, people know how important it is to make new contacts during events and conferences—but they may need help to do so.
And that’s where event organizers come in. It’s not enough to bring founders and business decision-makers together in one room. You need to create opportunities for the right people to find and meet each other. As we said earlier, think of yourself as a matchmaker.
What’s in it for you?
When attendees find value in your event, conference, or trade show, they may more likely attend the next one. After all, satisfied customers tend to become repeat customers. You want to strengthen your reputation as a B2B event organizer that gives businesses their money’s worth—not to mention their time.
Keep in mind, too, that businesses need to see the return on investment in events. If, by implementing business matching strategies at your B2B event, you’ve helped them meet a quality prospect, new investor, promising job candidate, possible collaborator, or potential mentor, you’ve shown them the value of their attendance.
And chances are, next time you invite them to a meeting, conference, trade show, or another event you organize, they’ll happily come.
Interested in an Artificial Intelligence-powered B2B matchmaking/networking software for your upcoming events? Speak to us to learn more.