Networking has been and continues to be one of the top reasons to attend a conference.
According to the “Decision to Attend” study conducted by the IAEE, 62 percent of respondents said that business networking at events is “very important” and the opportunities an event presents for making connections impact their decision to attend.
So it can be said that a successful event, in the eyes of an attendee, can be measured by the number of meaningful connections they make.
“Networking sessions are important to both the community and me, as an event organizer,” says Felix Wong, community manager and organizer of Techstars and WHub’s conferences. “We believe that bringing a group of like-minded people together can always create meaningful opportunities.”
The problem is event organizers think business matching is bringing people together in the same room and hoping that’s enough to help attendees network. But if experience is any indicator, this isn’t always the case.
For one thing, organizers put the responsibility of networking solely in attendees’ hands.
It’s up to attendees to do their homework beforehand, figure out whom to hit up, and charge into the crowd with fingers crossed they meet the right person. But as most people who attend conferences have very different objectives and very little control over who attends the mixers, networking efforts tend to garner unpredictable results at best.
For another thing, many people hate networking!
They find it time-consuming, awkward, and mentally draining. A study of MBA students at a specially organized networking event found that while 95 percent of attendees wanted to make contacts, they spent over half the time with people they already knew.
Historically, business networking has been a painful experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Especially not if event organizers take the steps to make it easier. These days, that means taking on the role of a business matchmaker.
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match
While the focus has always been on the speakers and the content, event organizers also need to facilitate connections. Not only will this solve a major pain point for attendees, it will also incentivize them to come back to the next conference to make even more valuable contacts.
According to Felix, this involves “allowing participants to pre-connect and interact with people in different forms, such as emails, video conferences or chatrooms” and “match relevant participants even before the event begins.” The best way to do that is to use a business matchmaking platform or app.
Unlike the usual “coffee break” or “speed networking” approaches to business matching, using an app has a lot of benefits.
Here are a few.
It improves the networking experience for attendees
A business matchmaking platform lets attendees skip all the awkward and uncertain parts of networking, like chatting up random strangers and hoping for a match, and gets straight to the point.
It works by providing attendees with a systematic way of planning and executing their network intentions.
For instance, on Toasty, attendees can create a profile specifically for business matchmaking purposes weeks before a conference even takes place. They can add their business info and networking objectives, and Toasty’s AI technology will recommend people to meet.
Attendees can then connect with their “matches,” chat with them, and schedule a meeting during their mutual hours. And boom! Let the magic happen.
No awkward small talk with the wrong people. No missed opportunities.
It provides organizers with meaningful insights
By using a business matching platform, organizers also get access to a large amount of trackable data and metrics. This includes:
- The number of connections or meetings initiated
- The number of meetings that actually happened
- The countries of most active attendees
- The hottest trends and topics attendees are talking about or interested in generated by Toasty’s AI technology
Most organizers only get data from their registration app, but that merely reveals the success of an event on a surface level, like how many people attended and how they felt about the event overall.
By tracking the different interactions people make during a conference, organizers could vastly improve attendees’ networking experiences in future events.
Become the cupid of your next conference
The role of a conference hasn’t changed. It has been and will continue to be a primary venue for people and businesses to make meaningful connections. What has changed, however, are people’s expectations.
By providing the best business matching opportunities in your industry, event organizers have the chance to set themselves apart from the hundreds of conferences that happen each year.
After all, a good speaker will last you the duration of the conference. A successful partnership is a long-term win. What will your next event offer the people?