by Andrea Sommer
We’ve all been there. You pick up the phone to pitch your next event to a prospective attendee or sponsor. You start to rattle off how compelling your event is going to be based on the volume and demographics of attendees as well as the quality of content that will be discussed.
And then you say it.
No sales pitch for an upcoming event would be complete without the promise of what a great networking opportunity it will be for attendees.
However, unlike the data-rich demographics of attendees and exhibitors, or the knowledge of the content that has been crafted for the event, metrics that measure and demonstrate the quality of networking are a lot harder to produce. Of course there are ad hoc examples of a deal being secured following a meeting between two people at your event, but data that quantifies the volume and impact of networking at and after your event is missing.
So what can you do?
There are ways in which you could try to measure networking, but even the most popular approaches currently employed have pitfalls:
· Surveying attendees – normally has poor response rates
· Focus groups – often have low levels of engagement
· Interviews –take a lot of resource and are only qualitative
We’ve heard event managers try to assess networking by asking attendees how many business cards they trade (do you really want to encourage attendees to focus on this?), capture images of people speaking and log the number of conversations (that’s a lot of effort and a bit scary) and also gauge effectiveness based on attendees’ social media posts (too unconnected in our view).
We believe the future for measuring networking lies in technology. Location based services – be they on your smartphone or wearable device – can offer a clever way for event organisers to not only measure networking but also deliver more compelling events to both sponsors and attendees.
Being able to quantify the value of networking is not only a lost opportunity for selling an event to attendees and sponsors, but understanding how and where people network at your event, and what materialises after the event, can also help event organisers improve the format, layout and timings of their events – ultimately ensuring people get the most from the time they invest in attending.
Andrea Sommer is co-founder and CEO of Hiver, a smartphone app that enables you to make the most of the time you spend networking. See: http://www.hivertech.com/