One of the biggest draws of corporate events is the ability to network with colleagues and peers that can help grow your business or help you achieve personal goals. Small talk and approaching strangers is not an easy task for everyone, so finding ways to organically facilitate networking at your event is great to ensure success and leave a long-lasting impression on your guests. Especially in the startup world, everyone is looking to walk away with a new connections that can help them expand their network. Here are some ways we have found to be easy approaches:
When in doubt, spring for name tags. Professional name tags that include guests full name AND company offer an opening line for guests to approach each other.
How you approach seating at your event can have a strong impact on how your guests interact with each other. If it's an event that requires seating - assigning seats can ensure guests don't sit with people they already know and offer them the chance to meet new people. It also offers you the chance to handpick connections you may want to be made.
On the other hand, if you are hosting a small cocktail party - limiting seating seating completely can be a great way to encourage people to connect. If they don't have somewhere to camp out the whole night, they will be forced to move around and meet more people.
In a conference setting, assigning small breakout discussions where guests can engage in a more intimate setting with speakers, presenters and each other can ensure higher quality connections are made.
When hosting a conference or all day meeting, always including some type of happy hour or cocktail reception at the end of the day. It allows people the opportunity to unwind after a long day and reflect on what they heard. Everyone already has a natural icebreaker because the just sat through the same day and it will encourage the discussions from the day to dive deeper! Not to mention, everyone loves a cocktail and it will send people home happy :)