Networking events, often known as' mixers', can be one of the best ways for companies, trade groups, churches, teacher parents' associations and just about any group you can think of to help their members get to know each other and network. The same goes for conference receptions, parties or almost everything.
But how effective are such events? How many times have you been to a social gathering and seen little isolated groups or cliques of people you already know, standing together or passively sitting at a table and effectively excluding anyone else who wants to join the group? Surely this is by defeating one of the main goals of holding an event or mixer in the first place? The reason why many events are difficult to mix is because of "structural" problems, in other words, problems involving the location, who is invited, and how the event unfolds.
Why is successful mixing so important?
If you are in the business, meeting new leads or people who might refer you to new customers is vital and directly linked to the success of your business. Mixing events is simply too expensive and takes a long time just to nibble on and talk to friends, colleagues or people you already know. For the business, making as many contacts as possible in the short term is not a luxury but a necessity.
A typical event
The event organizer relaxes – she has done her job, or so she thinks – she has booked a room, arranged transportation, booked a party, arranged food, made sure the bar was available and hotel staff were available. He now stands near the edge of the room and looks away, occasionally commenting on a colleague or hotel worker. The food looks great, the champagne is flowing, the room is beautifully decorated and no one can go wrong for practical arrangements. She did her job – or has she?
Unfortunately, you're likely to see several groups of people standing around with people in each group who obviously already know each other. They are easy to reach and enjoy a relaxing chat. Especially while their company picks up a food and drink card. These groups are usually positioned as a small circle facing inwards – utterly inconspicuous to those who do not know them, and each back was like a shell of armor! If things are left to the natural flow, such an evening characterized by clicks that look on the inside or loose collections of strangers who are unsure of how to connect effectively will probably be a disappointment to all concerned. But what can be done to improve this situation?
How organizers can improve their events
As with any good event, it all starts with great planning. Making sure you invite the right people to an event is a great start.
Correct the invitations
Personal invitations will always get a better response than invitations sent by email or mail. Segmented invitations The call to functions in churches, chambers of commerce, and so on is constantly being extended to the entire membership. There is a danger that these same groups or clicks may form each time. A new approach is needed to revive meetings and attendance.
Personal invitations to submit specific events, segmenting a potential "invitation base" and reaching out to a group that will have this subject in common can be an effective alternative to general networking. For example, individuals might be invited to attend a meeting for those who intend on media or industrial products. Members involved in these industries will be invited, and a general invitation will be extended to those interested in working with these professionals.
Organizers should also consider limiting the number of people from any particular company or organization. Not only will it create a greater impression of exclusivity, it will also prevent the worst excess companies standing together.
Always add badges. Even if you try very hard to remember someone's name, there is a good chance that at a large gathering that lasts for a few hours you can forget someone's advocate. The badge provides a discrete reminder. Event organizers should wear pre-event badges – ideally with large types. If you do not know in advance who will attend, the organizer should provide sufficient quality of adhesive badges and pencils for markers.
Meet the Games
The following are some simple games and techniques that can be used to get people acquainted.
Divide the group into pairs and learn the following about the other person:
- where you were born,
an interesting fact about yourself
- and what you do in your spare time.
The next step is to bring the three groups together, and each person presents the other. It's a little shameful, but you meet a new person.
Fast & # 39; socializing & # 39;
Divide your group into approximately two equal size groups. Have groups line up with one another. Each person must also be introduced to what he or she is doing in thirty seconds or minutes (depending on the size of the group). They also exchange business cards. When the time is up, the organizer must whistle, ring or use some other clear way to show everyone that the time is up. At this point everyone moves on to the next person in line. The process begins anew. The people at the ends of the lines have to "loop" so that they are at the beginning of the line. You may need them to help with this. When everyone is introduced to everyone else, the process stops. Make sure you set a time for this process – although it doesn't hurt that things get interrupted after a while, even if not all of the meeting combinations took place.
If the event organizer is able to participate in the process, it should really help because it is not good to seem overly "laid back".
Bingo business cards
When people come into the room for the first time, make sure they throw their business cards in the cap. Ask them to write an interesting fact on the back of the card. You will also need to make sure you have an exciting prize to offer as a boost in this game.
When everyone arrives, students are given about fifteen minutes to visit the room and collect about 6 business cards. In doing so, they need to know the name of the person from whom they get the business card and a little about his business. At this point in the exercise, everyone should have a mix of 6 different business cards. Then the caller pulls out the business cards from the hat at the entrance, and the winner of the exercise is the first person to have all the cards drawn. The caller keeps drawing business cards until someone has a "full house" – ie. all business cards. In the event of a draw, the winner will be decided by a series of questions about the persons whose business cards are part of the six drawn. These questions can be an interesting fact – if they wrote about it on the back or card – or simply what their company is doing.
& # 39; Labeling & # 39; people
When people come in, give each one small color stickers. Try to date them in roughly similar numbers and not use too many colors. At the right time, at the beginning of the gathering, ask everyone to try out all the other people who have their color. Its silly – but fun – and even its most diminutive violet will be forced to talk as it searches the room for its color. This game is most commonly used with groups of over 25 years. Once groups have been formed, members must discover what companies represent and transfer business cards.
Another variant of this is for the event organizer to place the appropriate business groups in the same color group, instead of randomly grouping people into groups. This networking does more to the group members. For example, a red group may consist of a graphic designer, a printer, representatives of promotional products, direct marketing, journalists, and representatives of local newspapers. This combination of professions can potentially collaborate successfully and their conversations should be mutually beneficial. This is in contrast to the typical chamber mixer that can feel like a kid's hideout game. After starting the conversation, which requires boldness and nervousness, it takes a few seconds to realize that the job of a new acquaintance is not important to you. More effort is needed to get out of a helpless relationship before another attempt is made to find the perfect business associate who is clearly playing hide and seek.
A networking event can be transformed by organizing a method, such as the game described, to ensure that professionals from mutually beneficial categories meet.
We welcome people as they arrive
A very good way to start the mixing process is to have someone standing at the entrance to shake hands and meet everyone who enters the room. This works best when the person doing the greeting is a fairly tall or important person to organize the meeting. It works less well if it is the person who greets the younger person. In my experience, the least successful way to greet people is to employ some sort of professional greeting card. I was greeted by clowns and likes and it was just shameful. How much more effective it would be for a company director to stand at the door and shake hands with everyone – instead of talking animatedly to his classmates at the bar.
For more event and party planning resources, visit social-miking.blogspot.com /.