There is no doubt that networking is a key part of business success in every industry. But when it comes to confirming the format of the network event, planners usually have to face many difficult choices. There are 2 major types of network events: structured or unstructured. Both have pros and cons, so the decision is on you. We are just trying to help you navigate these options.
Structured networking events
Increased structure help improve efficiency. Structured networking formats (speed networking or round tables), help attendees to spend every minute talking to people and making connections they came for. The set system also removes the need for dreadful icebreaker questions and conversation starters. Here they can jump straight to business.
More structure also means less flexibility. If someone is done talking to their partner, they can’t just leave before the meeting time is up. Organizers have to reinforce the idea that individual actions may disrupt the flow of the network event. This form is less appealing to people who like to use networking events as a hangout spot. But this can be a pro.
Unstructured networking events
Flexibility here is on the positive side. People can do whatever they feel more comfortable. They can hang with coworkers, jump from group to group or find one good lead and talk to him/her for an hour. No restrictions here.
There is no way to encourage people to mingle and be proactive. As an organizer, it is your job to help those more reserved people to open up and fulfill the sole purpose (idea) of the network event – meet people you don’t know. If people are not told what to do, they may not do it, and if there is no result, they will not come back.
Your role is to evaluate your audience and find out which format will work better for them.
The networking activities can also be divided into traditional and innovative. These are some examples of the traditional network event’s layout:
The most traditional way to host a networking event is to rent a private room or a whole restaurant, provide finger foods and drinks and let people socialize after work.
- Gala with awards.
This is a high-end way to celebrate an occasion. It can be in industry celebration tied to a big achievement or somebody’s anniversary. It is always nice to have an industry front-runner to get recognition and an award. Everybody will be able to put the face with the name after they deliver that speech.
Great way to provide you attendees quality face time with the meaningful people. To ensure the success it is important to use networking software like 100AM. It gives people the opportunity to research attendees in advance, set the appointments and manage expectations.
If you are looking for more unique ways to get your attendees engaged, you may use the following structures.
1. Speed networking.
Fun and easy way to ensure all attendees will meet each other and have a chance of a brief one-on-one conversation. A great alternative to appointments especially if you have a lot of people and not a lot of time.
2. A scavenger hunt or human bingo.
A different way to get everybody engaged is to unite them with one goal. Scavenger hunt, bingo or other games get people involved and out of their shell.
3. Community volunteering event.
There’s nothing better than uniting people with an honorable purpose of servicing their own commune. Those who volunteered together will sure work together.
Imagination is the limit when it comes to the way to run your networking event. Bottom line is the same – you are creating a nurturing environment where people will have a good time and open up to others, so the networking will actually happen.