One-dimensional participant lists are old hatWritten by Arjan Appel
When did you last go through the list of participants before registering for an event? Participants nowadays are looking for value for money and tools that will let them prepare properly.
Evaluations show that networking is one of the most important reasons for attending an event. At the same time, participants find networking difficult. They shuffle around with their cup of coffee, feeling uncomfortable and looking for someone they know. Once they have found a safe haven, they survey the room in search of an interesting contact. But hoping for a chance encounter is a waste of the investment you make when you register for an event. It’s nice to see who else will be there but a name, title or photo won’t tell you whether this could be a valuable connection. Interaction is needed.
From online to offline
Encounters move from online to offline
The first contact is made online and this is continued in a face-to-face encounter. The request is the key here. Where do you want to head, not where are you coming from? What does the participant want? What are they looking for? Today’s event visitors are looking for personal enrichment through worthwhile connections. That adds value to event visits. The sessions are there to update, refresh or inform like-minded participants, but there is a great deal more knowledge available within the closed environment of an event. Participants in the future will want to be able to make use of that. The sense of security and familiarity that you get when a group of professionals are together means that the true value of the information can be appreciated. The days are long gone when people attended events purely to notch up the required number of hours of training or listen passively to talks.
The people have the knowledge
How can you find the right person? Organisers need to search for ways of connecting up the participants. They can do this through the programme, through interaction or through social elements. But they also have to facilitate it, offering participants the opportunity to come into contact with one another. Organisers who cannot add value will not survive. After all, there is a huge choice, with so many events to pick from. Which ones yield results for the participants? That is what they will be weighing up. The human factor will never disappear, as nothing is quite as powerful as a live event and people want to maintain and extend their personal contacts.
But they also want to do it efficiently. Before long, people will be prioritising efficiency and the quality of the know-how. They want more than simply being able to select someone based on a name or photo. What do you have to offer? How can you help me?
Extending your event
We are constantly reading about how you need to keep up with the digital world to survive. Adapt or fall by the wayside. Digitisation is changing the way we communicate, and that includes the events industry. Offer participants the opportunity to find synergy in know-how issues prior to the event, during it and after it. Doing so will enhance the sense of involvement for the participants and create value for them. And not just for participants – for you too as an organiser, association or company. You obtain reliable event marketing data, giving you a better understanding of what participants are looking for from one another and of the number of connections made. This gives you a completely different take on the ROI from your event, as it shows things from the perspective of the individual participants rather than the exhibitor or organiser (number of leads, number of participants). That is what matters these days in this sector.
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