Icebreakers that allow attendees to meet in a structured manner, smart use of social media, and conversation-sparking menus can ease stress at events for those who don’t like to mingle.
Reticence can also be a cultural issue, and that can especially be true in Asia. Introverts and other meeting attendees who shudder at the thought of approaching a stranger are likely to be more relaxed when they recognize a friend or when someone is willing to listen to them.
A round-table seating plan is suggested, to contain networking within a certain range and a set number of people. An icebreaker activity before the event can also help but not cocktails or standing buffets as this setup won’t encourage people to open up and could leave them “stranded.”
Many events publish agendas and even attendee lists in advance, that can help people overcome shyness or a reluctance to network. Looking through this list helps attendees determine the people who they want to meet, icebreakers can browse LinkedIn feeds to find shared interests which can use as talking points in person.
It’s also a good idea to look through presentation and discussion topics on agendas and do some research. Having talking points and questions prepared beforehand will come in handy when the conversation wanes.
Another way of doing this is via button badges that highlight individuals’ characteristics, such as “loves a good book.”
Organized “chat zones” that direct individuals to areas where they can interact with others through activities can also prove successful.
For example, “how to taste wine?” attracts more people’s attention, that is easier to start a conversation.
The key to boosting networking at events is to ensure there are sufficient interactive activities and icebreakers at various points in a programme to encourage connections and conversations.
All-time favorites like tasting stations, gaming, or DIY stations go a long way to getting individuals participating and feeling more engaged.