Whether it’s to attract investors to a new community or to provide an interaction platform between buyers and providers, networking at events is the best way to connect people and businesses.
According to the State of the Event Industry Survey 2018, provided by EventMB, “Networking is the top priority for attendees at corporate events, 82% agreed.”
A Meetings Mean Business + Skift Present report, on the other hand, shows that “Millennial meeting attendees value face-to-face networking at meetings and events just as much as previous generations.”
Networking is here to stay, and B2B interactions are gradually becoming the main engine for meaningful business opportunities. Compared to simple networking events or activities, B2B meetings provide a controlled interaction environment.
By running B2B matchmaking dynamics, you have access to a wide range of customizable parameters, which can help you design the best networking experience. B2B matchmaking is the only system that empowers your attendees with total control over their networking experiences.
Your guests will not only know whom they’ll be meeting with during the event, but they’ll actually determine their own networking agenda. They will feel more comfortable interacting with others, being confident that they’ll generate truly meaningful connections.
This happens thanks to a series of features that can transform a B2B matchmaking event into the best networking experience your attendees will ever have.
The Anatomy of the Best Networking Experience
What makes brokerage (or B2B matchmaking) events so special?
Here’s a list of elements that will deepen your understanding about the real value and potential this networking dynamic has:
Element #1. Business categories
When planning a brokerage event, you’ll have two options to choose from when designing the B2B matchmaking event. The first one is "I'm looking for," referring to those attendees who attend to find something (a job position, a product, services, etc.).
The second one is "I'm offering," highlighting the business category which is there to provide something.
By having a clear demand-offer based matchmaking between the attendees, you’ll be able to design the best networking experience and help your guests have meaningful interactions.
Element #2. Networking forms
The thing that makes a brokerage event the best networking experience is the accuracy of matching the offer and demand. A networking form will help you understand what your attendees are looking for in terms of face-to-face interaction.
Compared to a simple registration form, the networking form focuses exclusively on what your attendees are looking for or have to offer during their interactions with other guests.
Element #3. Time slots and restrictions
The time of your attendees is valuable, that’s why you have to make sure they’ll take good advantage of their presence at the B2B matchmaking event.
Each B2B meeting between attendees has a start and an end time. When running a B2B matchmaking dynamic, you can always choose the exact time frameworks when guests can book the meetings.
Moreover, when planning a B2B matchmaking dynamic you can decide which are the hours when the attendees can't schedule meetings (during lunch or knowledge sessions, for example).
Considering these elements, apart from providing a networking environment, you are able to level up the experience of your attendees by offering them the following bonuses:
- The guarantee of meeting valuable prospects;
- The possibility of managing their meeting time;
- The necessary tools to build meaningful relationships.
However, to ensure the best networking experience, apart from combining the above elements, you must know and use a few planning tricks.
Here are some of the tips you can apply to boost the efficiency of your next B2B matchmaking event:
5 simple tweaks that will guarantee the best networking experience
Tip #1. Define the networking profiles
Events usually have different attendee types, such as VIPs, exhibitors, staff, participants, speakers, visitors, students, employees, sponsors, etc. However, if attendee types refer to a general classification you can use to easily manage your guests, networking profiles will help you match the offer and demand.
When guests will register for the B2B matchmaking event, they’ll need to specify their networking preferences and interests (entrepreneurs & investors or VCs, corporations & professionals, hosted buyers & exhibitors, etc.).
Subsequently, you can use this information to create different networking profiles and segment your audience into groups, facilitating the interaction between the offer and demand.
Tip #2. Set up the vetting procedure
One of the most powerful attributes of a B2B matchmaking system is the possibility to “handpick” your attendees. Having the possibility to interact with the best industry players transforms the brokerage event into the best networking experience.
Depending on the questions you include on the networking form, you’ll be able to validate or veto applicants. This will depend on their qualification level to attend the event or networking dynamic.
To guarantee you’re getting the right attendees, you can ask questions such as: “What is your decision-making level in the company?” “What is your area of expertise?” “What size is your company?” etc. Obviously, these questions will depend on the character and goals of your B2B matchmaking event or dynamic.
Tip #3. Communicate the B2B matchmaking dynamic
One of the most important elements of a successful B2B matchmaking event or dynamic is how you communicate it.
You can’t plan the best networking experience ever if you don’t adequately explain and prepare your guests for it; in fact, you run the risk of running a doomed event if you can’t show the real benefits of this incredibly efficient dynamic.
Here are a few ways to make sure you thoroughly communicate the dynamic to your participants:
- One of the best ways to communicate the B2B networking format is by designing well-explained email newsletters. In this case, you have two options: You can send these emails either before the registration slots are opened or after the registration procedure (in case the B2B interaction is incorporated as an event dynamic). Make sure you leave no space for doubts about the dynamic, and if your attendees do reach out with questions, answer them as quickly and proactively as possible.
- Your attendees may not know how to engage in this setting, so if your event has a webpage, make sure to dedicate a module to the networking session, explaining how B2B matchmaking works and why it will make a difference in their professional lives.
- Be ready to assist your attendees at all times. Don’t forget to ask a few volunteers or staff members to be always present in the networking room for any questions.
Tip #4. Prepare the networking space
Define the space for the 1-on-1 meetings. Apart from the venue rooms dedicated to other event activities (if needed), also prepare a comfortable environment with multiple tables and sets for the networking sessions. Here’s what you should consider:
- Types of venue accommodations. Depending on your event format, you can set up either tables and chairs or stands (booths). If you decide to elect tables, you can go for standing desks or traditional table formats. If you’ll run a trade show, make sure to accommodate the boots for the B2B matchmaking interaction, in case this dynamic is part of an exhibition.
- Spaces and meetings. An important detail you have to take into account is the number of meetings scheduled and the number of tables available. If you have 20 registered meetings, you’ll need to make sure you have 20 tables. Pay special attention to this aspect to avoid unpleasant surprises. Note that the algorithm will assign a table for every single meeting.
- Make your attendees feel comfortable. You have to perfectly adapt the venue to your attendees’ needs. Make sure the space is well-illuminated and each table has power plugs and sockets. Definitely make sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection.
Tip #5. Choose the right B2B matchmaking software
To guarantee the best networking experience and to make things easier for the attendees, you must use efficient tools. There’s no shortage of B2B matchmaking platforms. However, you may end up using a non-user-friendly one, subsequently confusing your attendees.
That’s why, choose the software you’ll work with wisely. Be sure it will be easy to navigate and understand. Also, remember to go for a B2B matchmaking tool that can provide a wide range of features.
Monetize the B2B matchmaking interaction. If you are planning an event that incorporates a B2B networking dynamic, present it as an “extra” that requires additional payment. Not only will you be able to monetize the activity, you’ll also reduce the risk of absenteeism (attendees will be more likely to keep their commitment and attend).
When engaging in a traditional networking session, your attendees have almost no information about the people they’ll meet. That’s why they can’t prepare themselves accordingly, and anxiety sets in.
With a B2B matchmaking dynamic, your guests won’t be strolling around aimlessly, trying to find someone with whom they could exchange a few words. They’ll have a personalized meeting schedule. As a result, they'll know exactly what is on their itinerary, and be able to take full advantage of their time.
B2B matchmaking is the only system that empowers your attendees with the absolute control over their networking experiences. Your guests will feel much more comfortable when interacting with strangers, because they know they’ll generate truly meaningful connections.