Boosting the # of opportunities: Open Networking Events
What are open networking events?
You provide your attendees with a way to easily browse & filter the list of other participants based on relevant criteria & to schedule the video meeting themselves.
Open networking events very typically promote a certain, very specific and often pre-selected group of people to a slightly broader audience. While there are many examples of these, we most frequently see this type of event being organised for startup companies & investors/incubators/media.
Before we dive into best practices & tips, let’s look at the advantages & disadvantages of such events.
– When giving attendees access to the entire contact list of other participants, you are essentially giving the contact list which they can come back to even after the event.
– People are up to 3 times more likely to show up & properly prepare for meetings which they actively scheduled themselves (hence are emotionally invested)
– By giving your attendees the responsibility to choose, you are eliminating the chance they will (openly or silently) blame you for meetings with people with whom they didn’t “click” despite their on-paper suitability.
– You don’t need to limit yourself in terms of event size (provided you have a suitable platform to take care of the logistics, e.g. automated meeting scheduling & proper filtering capability).
– Some cultures/groups of people may find it challenging to take the first step – create an invitation, even though they typically gladly accept the invites they receive. This may contribute to the lower number of meetings overall.
– The # of meetings is typically lower compared to pre-scheduled events.
How to get most of these type of events?
Here are the 5 main rules to follow:
A. Define the clear event goal
Make it the purpose of this event clear from the beginning & reserve the right to NOT accept all the registrations. Make sure that the ratio between supply & the demand side is well-balanced.
B. Collect answers to qualifying question upon registration
Collect the relevant data about attendees upfront & make sure that these will seamlessly transfer to the chosen platform. Attendees are four times more likely to provide relevant data upon event registration. Asking them to fill in their profiles once they already are attending the virtual event is usually too late.
C. Communicate effectively
Have multiple nurturing emails/messages ready. It’s important to not just register people to your event, but also to work with them between the time they have registered & when the event kicks off. Get them excited about other attendees you are getting to the event.
D. Select the right platform
Select the platform which matches all of your and your attendees’ needs. There is nothing worse, but using two or even more platforms/tools during the event. It heavily contributes to attendees losing the attention to what matters – organising & attending the meetings with other participants.
E. Push attendees to engage
Just before the event kicks off, send out an email reminder to your attendees. We also strongly recommend having presentations of selected, promoted participants ready. Get them in front of the eyes of other attendees. And most importantly – have the moderator of the event to remind everyone repeatedly that the 1 on 1 meetings are up to them to schedule & that it’s always better to be proactive.
…And of course, collect direct feedback from attendees whenever possible. Outside of that, you should automatically get the event analytics from the platform of your choice. Leverage these data to reflect on your event goals & always think how to make the next event even better.