Networking Through Roundtable Discussions: A How-to Guide for Your Next Event

Martin Broz

Networking is too important for the success of your event to simply leave it at “we’ll give our participants a 15 minute coffee break to network.” According to the latest IAEE report, 75% of delegates attend conferences with the aim of building new connections.

With this in mind, many event professionals approach the networking elements of their event more proactively than ever.

PPA Connect Live is a one-day networking event that invites event professionals from the business media and consumer magazine sectors.

For the participants, this offers a unique opportunity to meet their peers, exchange valuable learnings and make new and exciting connections.

Event design

In the 2017 edition, the organizers let the participants connect with well-facilitated networking sessions and carefully curated content.

The event agenda was designed around three session formats: keynote speeches and panels, roundtable discussions, and of course networking activities.

Time to huddle

Shortly after a keynote speech kick-off by Andria Vidler, CEO of Centaur Media, the attendees were asked to split into groups and choose one of the seven roundtables, or huddles, which were organized in the venue conference rooms.

Instead of listening to another keynote presentation, the participants had the opportunity to choose from a selection of pre-curated themes: Sponsorship, Awards, Campaign, Talent, Experiential, Bottom Line, and Data for discussion with their peers.

Each table had a Huddle Host who facilitated the discussion, allowing the participants to engage, share their experiences and be inspired by the learnings and challenges of others.

The roundtables were rotated every 30 minutes, giving everyone a chance to meet new people and interact with the attendees at each of the tables to address new topics.

The networking scene is set

When the bell rang to wrap up the last huddle, the participants very organically took their discussions into the coffee break area where they could further develop their ideas on the topics and connect with one another.

Thanks to the huddles, the networking transformed into meaningful conversations.

How did it happen?

The attendees already knew each other from the table discussions, so during the coffee break, they didn’t have to face that sometimes-awkward moment of making first contact.

The participants could easily start a conversation with: “What you said at the Sponsorship table was very helpful. My name is Martin by the way.”

Huddles connected people with the same interests and background so sitting at the table next to someone meant that you were very likely to face similar challenges or even have similar questions. During the breaks, the attendees could easily approach the right people and learn from one another.

A question to a peer could be: “It was interesting to listen to your story during the huddles. What did you do to overcome these challenges?”

Building connections

Not everyone is comfortable with networking but building new connections is, for many, still a number one reason to attend your conference. Roundtables are a great way to help the attendees have meaningful conversations at your event and let them connect based on the interests they share.

Would you like to try it at your next event? Let us know how it goes by tweeting @slidoapp. We’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

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