Yesterday’s consumers of YouTube pranks and Instagrammable avocado toasts have become today’s executives, entrepreneurs, and high-qualified professionals.
Their disruptive approaches are enabling the economy to spin the other way around, generating new value-exchange frameworks.
Transforming the world into their playground, millennials are gradually building strong communities and businesses. According to PWC, by 2020, millennials will compromise half the global workforce.
Apart from that, “Millennials expect to keep on learning as they enter the workplace and spend a high proportion of their time gaining new experiences and absorbing new information.”
That’s why they came across as avid consumers of event experiences.
“The Decision to Attend” 2017 study, conducted by The Experience Institute, highlighted that 43% of millennials reported attending more events (such as workshops, seminars, conferences, conventions, or exhibitions), rising from 37% in 2014.
In addition, the same report provides a key takeaway related to millennial and networking events.
The study specifies that “76% of all generations say it’s important to give them opportunities to network and make connections.” 49% of millennials rated networking events and face-to-face experiences as “Very Important.” Consequently, this is highest percentage across all generations.
Why Millennials Love Networking Events
As mentioned in the “What Millennials Want in Meetings” report published by Skift and Meetings Mean Business, “Humans are social creatures. Just because Millennials use technology more than past generations, they still prefer face-to-face engagement to gauge people’s reactions and intentions, communicate more holistically by using more senses, and generate business development better.”
In addition, there’s a specific type of attendees, identified by this American Express report, called the tech-savvy networker.
As the report indicates, “Tech-Savvy Networkers are active, plugged-in attendees. They value personal relationships and seek out ways to make meaningful connections that can help them achieve their goals.” Considering this, here’s a few reasons why millennials like networking events:
Reason #1. Events can generate new job opportunities
As The New York Times bestselling author Dan Schawbel argues, “Millennials find value in conferences and meetings because they are seeking networking and career opportunities more than ever before.” As Schawbel specifies in his “How Millennials See Meetings Differently” study, “80% of millennials prefer peer-to-peer networking and 86% want specific outcomes from events such as career networking and job opportunities.”
Reason #2. Events can ignite their professional development
Networking events and face-to-face engagement are a great opportunity for expanding the knowledge platform. By identifying, interacting with, establishing and nurturing relationships with highly qualified professionals, millennials gain access to valuable resources that can help them excel in their professions.
Reason #3. Attending events is a great way to build business relationships
Whether they’re searching for investors or startup partners, millennials attend networking events to establish meaningful connections. By engaging with different professional profiles and building contacts, millennials will diversify their opportunities to find the perfect match for their business needs.
Reason #4. Events can help establish trust among individuals
To create the "What Millennials Want in Meetings” report, the authors interviewed different millennials to understand their interest in attending networking events.
One of their responses revolved around the emotional reactions they are trying to read when interacting with someone.
As one interviewed millennial indicated, “When you get to know someone in person, you learn the most essential ingredients of who they are as a human being and as a professional. Looking into someone else’s eyes, smiling and shaking hands are some of the things that help create a kind of connection that is not replaceable digitally.”
Reason #5. Events are the perfect venue for knowledge sharing and value exchange
Being interested in their constant growth, millennials are eager to share what they’ve learned. They want to build a strong network around exchangeable value and transferable skills. In other words, they want to meet and interact with like-minded people with whom they can initiate a learning and knowledge-sharing dynamic.
Extremely goal-oriented and focused, millennials will attend your networking events to search for meaningful relationships and multiple business or work opportunities.
That’s why it’s your responsibility to design and run an event that aligns perfectly with their needs and expectations.
However, keep in mind that the key to high-quality networking events is having remarkable attendees who have something valuable to offer. Less-qualified millennial attendees may result in a poor interaction experience, which in turn can lead to a multitude of weak outcomes and considerable frustrations.
To keep this from happening, take into account the five types of millennials you must deal with when planning and running your networking events.
Personalities of Networking Events attendees
As Derek Coburn notes, one-night standers are mediocre attendees who are either just starting out or running a failing business and are only attending your networking events to find someone who might help them.
As Coburn argues, “They are looking for quick fixes, short-term remedies, stop-gap measures.” One-night stand attendees have no interest in cultivating any meaningful relationships. The only thing they’ll do is waste other participants’ time.
What can you do
When attendees register for your event, ask them to specify their networking preferences and interests. By enabling the “I’m offering” and “I’m looking for” modes, you’ll help them correctly articulate their networking goals. Having this information, you can create different attendee profiles and segment your audience in groups.
From there, you can decide which group profiles are compatible. This way, you'll let people from one group to request meetings with people from other groups. This system will help you match people based exclusively on the reciprocate value they offer.
The “me, me, me,” type of people are a real problem, especially for networking events. They will skillfully spot some vulnerable attendees, capturing them with a big smile. Subsequently, they'll start chatting about themselves without even asking the name of their prey.
What can you do
To avoid these incidents, ensure a robust networking dynamic. Make sure to guide the attendees through the interaction experience with a series of requirements and rules. For example, you could set the networking meetings between your guests and monitor the length of time each person talks. Then, you could announce when it’s time to switch and the other person takes over the narrative. Consequently, everyone will have the chance to speak and be heard.
There’s nothing more annoying for participants at networking events than to be stuck with one person who refuses to leave their side. Clingy attendees will be persistent in their attempts to interact, monopolizing the time of others who are there to interact and engage with many people.
What can you do
Instead of planning traditional networking events, focus on designing brokerage events (B2B matchmaking). A B2B matchmaking system lets attendees schedule short meetings during the event. As a results, they'll meet those people who are important for their businesses or careers.
This gives them total control over the networking dynamic. Not only can they scroll through the list of guests, but they can also decide with whom they want to connect.
You may find out the hard way that people sometimes attend events only to sell something. For example, you can run a networking event for entrepreneurs who want to meet investors. However, in building an audience of all entrepreneurs and investors, you may end up with small number of people who sell business insurance.
Their main goal would be to take advantage of the pool of professionals you managed to gather. They'll try to sell their products, which can come across as annoying and intrusive.
What can you do
To get the right attendees, don’t hesitate to introduce a vetting system. Make sure to use powerful event management software that will let you decide who can or cannot attend your networking events. Hence, you'll have the full control over the quality of your guests, making sure there will be no intruders.
Not all people like to network and interact. In his paper “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” Nicholas Epley states, “Although we are highly social animals, we tend to believe that “connecting with a stranger in conversation is truly less pleasant than remaining isolated.”
Epley highlights that people prefer isolation to the company of random strangers.
What can you do
Reduce the uncertainty factor by planning a B2B matchmaking dynamic. This way, your guests won’t stroll around aimlessly, trying “to hunt down” someone.
They will have a personalized meeting schedule. They will know exactly what is on their itinerary and be able to taking full advantage of their time.
Planning networking events for millennials can be both challenging and gratifying. Your participants will ask for—and expect—high-quality experiences and meaningful relationships.
Consequently, to ensure this, you must consider all the types of millennial attendees that may disrupt the face-to-face interactions.
That’s why, when designing networking events, focus on gathering qualified participants. Design friendly settings for interactions and help your guests make the most out of their face-to-face experiences.