Successful event planners know—events must be engaging and provide ample networking opportunities, but how can planners and their teams create rich, empowering experiences during an event?
The services and tools discussed here will help you to engage attendees and help making networking fun, simple, and most importantly productive.
Making connections and building relationships:
Want to put a little tech behind your networking? We have some great suggestions to get you ready for your next event.
Shpare.com – Built specifically for events, Shpare helps planners facilitate connections and schedule meetings. Shpare will email invites to your attendees to get them started networking, they’ll also automate scheduling to help attendees use their time at the event as productively as possible. Shpare is a powerful tool for exhibitors and sponsors, helping them capture and process leads.
Sonar: Friends Nearby – Sonar lets your attendees find compelling connections based on mutual interests and proximity. If someone you’d like to meet or someone potentially interesting is in the area, Sonar lets you know so that you can make the connection in person. BONUS: Other tools similar to Sonar include Highlight and Here on Biz that will keep your phone buzzing with new networking opportunities.
Bu.mp – So, you’ve met a great contact or lead and need to get his/her contact information. While Bump probably won’t make business cards obsolete, this cool mobile app is transforming first meetings. With a simple “bump” from smartphone to smartphone (or smartphone to computer or computer to smartphone), people can share contact details, documents (like white papers), and photos. BONUS: If you’re still stuck with a pile of cards, use CardMunch to snap photos and automatically add connections on LinkedIn.
Interacting with and engaging attendees:
There are an increasing number of cool uses of new (and not-so-new) technology that can inspire your attendees.
Near Field Communication (NFC) – NFC, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a wireless technology that works at close distance between capable devices to transmit data. We think NFC is awesome because it can be used to get immediate feedback and interaction with very little friction for attendees. The technology can be used to get votes, share documents with attendees, get check-ins for sessions, etc. (To read more about terrifically creative application of NFC at an event, check out Mashable.) Although not all smartphones are NFC enabled companies like Tagstand are helping event planners integrate the technology, and its looking increasingly likely that the number of NFC devices will increase dramatically in the next 1-2 years.
Tools for Enhancing Social Engagement:
If you think that social engagement is limited to the features built-in to your event app or your attendees interest in tweeting your event hashtag, you’re missing out. There are some trendy and effective ways to ensure that attendees have every reason to get involved in the social media efforts of your event.
Other incentives, like rewards for check-ins or social sharing, also work well. Most people are familiar with Foursquare for check-ins, but you may not have heard of Planana, a cool service that let’s you link cool, attractive perks to certain social media behaviors and actions.
What other creative tools and uses have you found for improving engagement at your events?
Next week: For the final post in our feature with CitizenTekk, we’ll discuss the tools and strategies for engaging attendees after the event and increasing the chance they be back next year.