You can learn anything online now. Also, you can reach out to nearly anyone and connect at the touch of a button.
So why would anyone come by train or plane to your event when they can meet others, chat and learn new things from their couch, chair or even their bed?
The answer is simple: face time. Face time is the one thing we can’t get from the digital world, and that’s what your attendees (and companies who send them) pay for.
After all, 76% of attendees come to events to network. But why?
Well, because they want face time with relevant, high-quality leads and partners. 89% of business professionals say face-to-face meetings are the easiest way to close new business, and there’s plenty of new business waiting at your event.
But face-to-face meetings also help your attendees in more personal ways, like:
- Expanding their horizons
- Learning new things
- Helping them develop personally and professionally
Meeting other attendees can even help turn your event from a great event into a truly memorable event.
So, here are 3 reasons why it’s definitely worth creating effective event networking opportunities at your event, from roundtable discussions to 1:1 meetings.
1. Help your attendees close new business
Gathering a group of people around a topic or from within an industry is a ripe environment for business. Whether it's new deals, hires or partnerships, your attendees want it all.
It’s not just hungry sales reps looking for a big catch. We all have different needs and business problems, and some attendees need a solution urgently.
But if they can’t find the right people, you risk frustrating them.
As well, not all attendees come on their own dime. Companies pay for their employees’ travel, and in return, they expect results, which is generally new business.
Plus, consider your sponsors. The simplest way for your sponsors to generate return from their partnership (in other words, to make it worth the cost) is to find new business.
Whether directly, through sales of a new product, or indirectly, through positive brand awareness, the main reasons for sponsorship all tie back to one thing: more revenue.
Your sponsors and attendees want new business.
New business comes best through face-to-face meetings.
Face-to-face meetings come from networking.
When you help attendees connect at your event, you give your event the greatest potential for an explosion of new business.
2. Help your attendees learn and develop
92% of attendees come to events for the education and to stay on top of their industry. But learning also happens outside of your sessions and keynotes.
Face-to-face discussions are an excellent way for your attendees to ask questions, apply their knowledge and learn in a dynamic and interactive environment.
From larger roundtable discussions to smaller meetings, your attendees can talk about what they just heard and start reinforcing that knowledge so they recall it later.
Your attendees can also learn from discussions around a topic, either at roundtables, speed networking or 1:1 meetings.
While the topic and information are fresh in your attendees’ minds, they can discuss, share their own opinions, and learn from other attendees who have knowledge, experience or their own opinions on the topic.
As well, we all have our own opinions and points of view. We also tend to associate with others who share that point of view.
That leads to confirmation bias, which is “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or strengthens one's prior personal beliefs or hypotheses.”
But at your event, your attendees can meet and chat with others who don’t share their opinions or point of view, helping them see issues or topics in a new way.
Your attendees leave with an open mind, and those discussions are far more engaging – and much more fun – than watching video recordings or reading blog posts on the same topic months later.
Research also shows that positive social relationships are a key ingredient for happiness, even more so than annual income.
And we tend to remember what makes us happy.
3. Networking makes your attendees happy and your event memorable
Events are charged with emotion. However, some of the most memorable moments are meeting or engaging with other people.
As Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today, “Emotion acts like a highlighter pen that emphasizes certain aspects of experiences to make them more memorable.”
When we recall momentous occasions in our life, we remember the setting, but we also remember who we were with.
So by helping your attendees connect with each other, you create emotional ties to your event, through the connections and relationships they forge with each other.
As well, Heshmat goes on to say:
"Another reason for remembering the events in our lives is the amount of emotion we invest in them. One ride on a commuter train is very much like the next, but we are likely to remember the day when we strike up a conversation with someone who becomes a close friend."
Attendees may go to a few events per year, but they’ll remember those where they met new, relevant and interesting people the most.
And that helps keep attendees coming year after year.
As well, there is something called the peak-end rule in memory. We don’t remember a memory as each individual moment, but instead we remember:
- the best or worst moments (wherever the emotion peaks), and
- the end moment.
It’s like watching a movie with really slow pacing, but a top-notch ending. You remember the thrilling ending more than the the hour (or more) of build up before it.
Same with events. Effective networking opportunities help give your attendees more peaks to remember, meaning they recall your event as a great and worthwhile experience.
Make your event emotional
We’re social creatures. It’s easy to connect from behind a screen, but a true connection only happens face-to-face.
As event organizers, helping your attendees network not only helps them in many ways, but it makes your event unforgettable.
And making these connections doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many options available for you, and it’s easy to find one to suit your event.
To get started, there’s a free guide on the best ways to facilitate networking opportunities for conferences.