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Social Media Blog September 13, 2009

Networking at Conferences – Mingle Away

Not many people like to network at conferences……… do you? There are those few extraverts that would love the chance to talk to a rock (because they love to hear themselves talk), but for most people networking at conferences doesn’t come easy. Many people are shy, timid, find it difficult (or maybe they just don’t want to).

Event organizers and meeting planners are always looking for ways to solve this networking problem. Conferences and tradeshows are meant for networking, but how can the experience be enhanced? In the past, event organizers have focused on the attendee-to-exhibitor networking relationship by implementing lead retrieval services. This is good, but not great. A lot of value is still missed because event organizers do not realize the value associated with connecting attendees to attendees. Let me explain:

Let’s say you attend a three conference that has a one day tradeshow included. Ask yourself this simple question: How many exhibitors are you meeting on the tradeshow floor compared to all the other attendees you are meeting throughout the conference? Think about the seminars, workshop sessions, luncheons, social events etc. that you attend. You are meeting LOTS of people! For some reason though, the effort involved with exchanging a business card is sometimes too much effort or laborious. We are just not in the habit of exchanging business cards with everyone we meet. Think about how many people you meet versus how many people receive your business card. You should quickly realize you don’t hand out enough business cards – especially when a conference or tradeshow is all about networking!

Until most recently, the attendee-to-attendee networking relationship has mostly been ignored because exchanging business cards has sufficed. With social networking exploding and business professionals rapidly joining Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, event organizers and meeting planners are looking to find innovative ways to connect attendees. I think this is extremely important because significant value exists in these relationships.

Many companies are trying to bring innovative technology solutions to help create these attendee-to-attendee connections. If you are an event organizer or meeting planner, please heed the following words of advice: Make sure the technology is simple to use! Many technology solutions can be very powerful and feature rich, but require instruction manuals to learn how to use it. If it isn’t simple, people aren’t going to use it! I believe this whole-heartedly.

If I may, let me share with you why the MingleStick technology is a perfect solution for conference networking. Two simple reasons: 1) The device can be handed to all attendees at the event. 2) It’s easy to use because its only one button.

Imagine putting the MingleStick into the hands of all attendees and exhibitors. Every single person has the capability to network with each other with the simple click of a button. This is extremely powerful! From events ranging from 100 to 100,000+ attendees, the MingleStick solves the attendee-to-attendee networking challenge. MingleSticks can be distributed to all attendees at the event upon Registration. The MingleStick is extremely easy to use because it’s a one button device. Attendees simply point their devices at each and press the button. The red flashing light turns green indicating a successful connection has been made.

In the next 6 to 12 months, I believe meeting planners and event organizers will start to recognize this value. Currently, it’s an unrealized need. Can you envision the need I am talking about? Lead retrieval systems connected attendees to exhibitors. No technology exists to connect attendees to attendees. The days of business cards will be replaced with more informative and more efficient means of connecting hundreds and thousands of people together. Maybe one day every attendee will carry a MingleStick for their networking at conferences and tradeshows!

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