This article concerns that ‘n’-word again – yes, it is time for us to discuss networking. It is that activity that is defined ever so dryly by Wikipedia as “a socioeconomic business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures”.
It is 2016, though, and there are probably many new ways of networking for your events that we can explore. Beginning with:
Okay, so maybe this isn’t that new. After all, it IS 2016. Nonetheless, the many channels that constitute “social media” still have enormous potential with regards to networking. Consider the story of how Uber started and the importance of a tweet that founder and CEO Travis Kalanick sent,
“Looking 4 entrepreneurial product mgr/biz-dev killer 4 a location based service.. pre-launch, BIG equity, big peeps involved–ANY TIPS??”
Ryan Graves, the future CEO, responded and the rest is, as they say, a case study for those interested in successful start-ups.
With social media, you have access to a global network. Though it worked in Uber’s case, Twitter isn’t even the only medium you can use. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, even Snapchat are just some of the ever-increasing channels you can tap into. Be adept at these and you will be able to find your way into the communities that are formed online. This makes you instantly connected to like-minded individuals or groups no matter where they are in the world. The opportunities for tie-ups, endorsements or partnerships for your events are expansive to the point of being unlimited.
There is another thing we can learn from social media – particularly one that has incited much chagrin from Facebook or Instagram users. These platforms have changed the way they load content on their users’ pages from what used to be chronological to its current form of whatever their algorithms deem is the content that their users want to see. When networking, a lot of time, effort and small talk can be wasted on conversations that are obviously going nowhere. Now, I’m not asking you to be an antisocial, agenda-driven hustler, but sometimes the courtesy we afford others leads us down blind alleys.
There are a couple of ways we can avoid that. Firstly, narrow the scope of interactions. If you are intending to focus on networking for your event, attend networking sessions where you know the crowd is one that is generally favorable to what you have to offer.
Secondly, you can initiate such a session as a prelude to future and bigger events. Invite guests who are, once again, likely to be receptive to your ideas but also make sure it is a guest-list that is likely to be open to each other. Discussions that may arise from individuals of different industries can also be extremely beneficial in the short or medium term.
It Opens At The Close
Don’t treat your own event like the culmination of your planning and networking. Rather, leave a lot of room for future possibilities at the event itself. Allow a lot of time in your program for your guests to freely mingle and make sure that you do that too. Get insights on what people think and how future collaborations are possible.
Also, ensure that the space is conducive for such discussions. If it is not naturally suitable, then manipulate the space by marking out “free” areas that are well stocked with refreshments and furniture that make conversations possible.
Lastly, the existence of a stable WiFi connection is absolutely necessary. As I stated at the beginning of the piece, it is 2016.
Networking is a crucial part of business and running an event requires a lot of homework in this area. Certainly, you also want your event to be a springboard for collaborations. Hopefully, this short piece has given you a few ideas about how to make networking easier and more efficient for you and your company.