By Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP
As planners, we are constantly searching for the latest trends to tap into in order to make our events pop - food, beverage, technology, décor, entertainment, speakers, mobile apps, staging – you name it, and we are in the search for ways to incorporate it “to the nth degree’ into our next event. But what if the overwhelming feedback from your most recent event clearly told you to forget about the zing and the wow-factors and to just please provide attendees with more opportunities to meet other attendees? Say what?! That’s right, sometimes the purpose of a networking reception is to actually network and meet new people; and many times that purpose is lost in the never-ending quest to amuse, entertain and impress.
- Nix the pre-printed name tags (save them for later) and have some fun with disposable stick-on ones. Let attendees decide what name they want to introduce themselves as, such as Lady Gaga, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Gates, etc. Voilà! With the stroke of a felt tip marker their ‘hidden’ personality has been revealed and is an instant conversation starter. COST: Disposable name tags and Sharpies. RESULTS: Imagination and fun!
- Have your own version of ‘speed dating’ put into action. Use multiple small tables set in rows, each with two chairs facing one another and every five minutes or so ring a bell, sound an alarm or start the marching music to signal that everyone on one side of the table needs to get up and move. Instruct attendees to bring lots of business cards and/or instantly exchange contact info via conference apps... and there’s your party. COST: Minimal, depending on set-up charges. RESULTS: Lots of guaranteed introductions in a controlled time frame.
- Pass out simple disposable stick-on labels that are pre-populated with names of people who would be on teams. For example, Iron Chefs from the Food Network, famous authors, entire cast members from well-known TV shows, etc. Place these labels just below a name tag or in plain view on a shoulder and tell everyone to go find their team. Prizes can be awarded for first team found and so on. COST: Stick on labels. RESULTS: Teambuilding!
These examples may seem elementary but if your goal is to get people to meet and mingle, these are sure to do the job and at a cost that any budget can afford.