Set Up Your Network Meeting for Success
Ban common networking faux pas with these setup solutions
Trying to connect with strangers can be awkward as it is, but embarking on a new professional relationship can be even more uncomfortable if a Network event isn’t set up for success. Eliminate these five common networking faux pas from the get-go with these setup solutions:
The problem: People not participating.
The solution: Start with an icebreaker.
Simply putting guests together in a room does not a productive discussion make, especially for attendees who might be more on the shy side. So, make an icebreaker activity the first item on your agenda to break down conversation barriers from the start.
The problem: People who dominate the conversation.
The solution: Opt for an open event space.
An overzealous attendee can be hard to avoid. One thing that might help: an open meeting setup. Rather than a venue divided into multiple rooms (which can leave the person on the other end of the conversation feeling trapped in one spot), an open event environment gives other guests the opportunity to join in and add new voices to the conversation.
The problem: People ditching conversations to talk to “more important” guests.
The solution: Plan activities that ensure guests get a chance to talk with everyone.
No one wants to feel that they’ve been abandoned for someone better, and in a networking setting such a situation can lead to attendees feeling unimportant—eroding meeting morale, too.
To avoid a downcast atmosphere, plan activities that offer face-to-face time with every guest. For example, try networking speed dating. Set up one-on-one stations around the room and give each pair about five minutes to talk. Not only will every attendee get to interact with one another, but with such a short time to make an impression, they’ll also get to the important information first, meaning they’ll be able to tell quickly whether they’re compatible professionally.
The problem: Lack of professionalism.
The solution: Set a code of conduct prior to the meeting start time.
As with any event, it’s important to establish attendee expectations early. Help set your guests up for networking success by detailing the dress code and other appropriate event rules in your pre-meeting communications.
The problem: People handing out hard copies of their résumés.
The solution: Provide a way for attendees to easily link up post-event.
Some guests might be eager to talk about their experience (and that’s great!), but handing out résumés or similar self-promotional materials can come off as self-centered and be off-putting. To ensure that every attendee has a fair chance at building new connections, create an online portal where attendees can easily find and communicate with each other post-meeting. This could be through an event app or a Facebook group, for instance.
By making attendees accessible to each other, providing a digital meeting place can also help guests with another common networking mistake: failure to follow through.
As discussed above, it’s also important to outline networking rules prior to the meeting, so make sure to mention that résumés aren’t allowed so guests won’t arrive with freshly printed copies in hand.