The technology boom we’ve experienced over the past few years has changed the way we do everyday tasks, run businesses, and interact with people. Nowadays, we can build remote teams, manage international companies with just a few clicks, and strengthen partnerships through online transactions.
However, there’s one thing that will most likely stay the same: Nothing will replace the real value of in-person meetings. Emotional engagement and face-to-face interactions are the only circumstances that can produce powerful transformative experiences.
When people engage in interpersonal communication, they are more open to forging new business relationships, finding empowering opportunities for the local economy, and engaging in meaningful conversations that may transform into common projects.
That’s why when it comes to planning B2B encounters or helping businesses and institutions build bilateral relationships, your main responsibility is to choose the right networking format.
This is no easy task, considering how many B2B networking types there are.
But first things first: What exactly makes B2B networking so different and special from B2C and social interactions?
Let’s find out.
The value exchange between businesses and brands
There is an important difference between social interactions, B2C engagement, and business networking.
A regular social interaction during an event refers to creating a conversational environment where attendees can talk to each other without any constraints. These interactions usually happen during coffee breaks, lunches, or even cocktail dinners.
Every single attendee may have his or her own agenda of how to encounter certain people, or present themselves as industry references for further collaborations. However, a simple social interaction (or event networking) involves a more relaxed interaction between guests while attending an event.
B2C networking, on the other hand, indicates the fostering of business-oriented relationships between a brand and its (potential) clients.
These interactions frequently occur during trade shows or exhibitions. Brand events are also favorable environments for this type of interaction. Usually, companies will make use of event marketing as a promotion strategy, and attract potential leads or clients.
The final goal, in this case, will be to work on building B2C relationships, thus growing the number of clients or customers.
Finally, B2B networking refers to bilateral relationships between businesses and brands. This type of interaction implies a higher level of responsibility and advanced decision-making.
There are different types of B2B networking, depending on the end goal. For example, transactional interactions revolve around value exchange. One business wants to sell a product or service that will solve a problem or challenge other businesses face.
In the case of partnerships, people involved in the B2B interaction will seek to find ways of working together to achieve a greater goal.
And when we talk about investments and locally oriented economy, these B2B networking sessions will involve trying to attract foreign businesses and brands in an attempt to strengthen the local market and bilateral collaborations.
What are the challenges when developing B2B connections?
Regardless of a B2B networking event’s end goal, business representatives may find it hard to establish, and subsequently, sustain a meaningful bilateral relationship. Here’s why:
Challenge #1. The lack of relevant prospects
Not having control over the qualification of your B2B networking attendees will decrease the interaction quality. People may find there aren’t enough or even no relevant prospects at all, and leave the event without any result.
Challenge #2. Generalized pitches
When B2B networking attendees don’t know who else will be attending the event, they can’t personalize their pitch and are forced to craft a more general pitch. This means they miss the opportunity to plan their communication strategy and connect better with potential prospects at your B2B networking events.
Challenge #3. Different agendas
Matchmaking the offer and the demand is an important, yet usually ignored aspect of B2B meetings. Whether it’s about social interaction, B2C networking, or B2B engagement, people have different agendas and goals.
If you don’t connect the offer and the demand, your attendees’ interactions will be pointless, since everyone will guide themselves according to their different intentions and purposes.
Challenge #4. Zero control over the outcomes
In most cases, when your guests attend a B2B meeting or networking event, they have almost no control over the results. They don’t know how many prospects they’ll meet or if these interactions have the potential to grow into something more than just a nonchalant exchange of business cards.
Challenge #5. High levels of uncertainty
Apart from the logistics and actual interactions, your B2B networking attendees may suffer from anxiety or stress. Why?
Well, let’s think about it for a second: Most people are comfortable engaging in conversations with strangers. Not knowing the names of the people they’ll be meeting or how their interactions will go can cause a great deal of confusion and uncertainty, which can lead to pre-event anxiety and a less-than-positive networking experience.
Types of B2B networking formats
So what can you do, as an entity or institution that runs B2B networking events, to help your attendees overcome these challenges and build meaningful connections?
To answer your question, let’s see what B2B networking formats exist and how they differ.
Format #1. Speed networking
One of the most popular type of B2B networking is speed dating. The idea was borrowed from actual speed dating, and involves a room set up with different tables that can seat two people.
People are paired up and then asked to interact for 10 minutes (5 minutes of presentation and pitching per person). Then, after a buzzer goes off, one participant at each table will have to get up and move to the next table.
Format #2. Interactive forums
During this B2B networking format, people present their pitches to a large group (up to 200 attendees), and then individual topics are discussed in smaller groups.
Format #3. Power networking circles
The B2B networking format is similar to speed networking. The only difference is that in this case, there are clusters of six tables with six participants each. The attendees have 5 minutes (each) to present themselves, and then five of them have to move over to the next table.
Format #4. Co-working congresses
In this case, people are placed in small groups and encouraged to work together to accomplish a series of tasks or find answers to different problems. By working together, business representatives will have a better understanding of how their prospects behave and can build stronger relationships.
Format #5. Business cocktail parties or casual contact networks
These interactions refer to a more informal environment, based on letting people approach each other and start different conversations. Usually, this can happen during business cocktail parties or networking dinners. The networking itself isn’t coordinated, which means guests will have to initiate all interactions themselves.
Format #6. Tinder-like networking apps
Event mobile apps are popular in terms of networking and matchmaking. There are different and new ways attendees can access data about their potential prospects and even decide whom they want to meet.
Format #7. B2B matchmaking
This networking dynamic is based on letting attendees schedule short one-on-one meetings during the event with people who might be important and relevant for their businesses or careers. This dynamic gives guests total control over their networking options, which ups the chances of them cultivating truly meaningful relationships at your event.
What’s the most efficient B2B networking format?
Considering the challenges a B2B networking attendee experiences, we can put all these formats into different categories.
What exactly ensures the high quality of the interaction (aka the matchmaking between the offer and the demand) and low levels of uncertainty of the B2B matchmaking format?
B2B matchmaking is result-oriented
By engaging your attendees in this dynamic, you’ll help them evaluate and foresee the business potential they’ll have access to at your event. Apart from that, the entire philosophy of B2B matchmaking revolves around generating results (aka meaningful business relationships). This interaction technique comes as a response to all of your attendees’ challenges when building B2B connections and focuses on generating results.
Nothing will replace the potential of one-on-one meetings
The great thing about B2B matchmaking is the face-to-face meetings, which foster the personal contact and necessary space required to create valuable business relationships.
B2B matchmaking provides a controlled environment
Your guests will always know with whom they’ll be meeting. Not only that, but those people are perfectly matching their needs. The matchmaking may happen manually (your attendees can choose the prospects they want to meet from a database) or automatic (soon, Eventtia will provide an intelligent system that will automatically schedule the necessary meetings between the offer and the demand, based on the information attendees provide).
Apart from that, if you decide to run a B2B matchmaking event, you can decide the time restrictions and meeting durations, supplying an entirely controlled and easy-to-manage environment for business meetings.
The B2B networking guests are “handpicked”
Thanks to specific networking forms, profiles, and business categories, prospects and attendees end up being chosen based on their qualifications and the value they can provide to others.
B2B matchmaking is, by far, one of the most successful and efficient networking dynamics, providing a personalized approach and ensuring the perfect synchronization between the offer and demand.
Employing this networking technique will help your guests find worthwhile connections at your events, and provide a safe interaction environment that will get your attendees the expected results.