We have known for a while that networking is one of the top reasons people attend conferences.
But who knew it actually makes them smarter?
According to a new study published by Scientific American on 5 ways to Maximize Your Cognitive Potential networking was cited as one of the best ways to expose yourself to new ideas, perspectives and knowledge that results in cognitive growth or becoming smarter!
Grow Your Attendees’ IQ
Conferences offer attendees the opportunity to meet new people that expose them to insights they have never thought of before. That’s where peer learning occurs best because we experience new information in meaningful and unique ways. I can’t think of a better place than a face-to-face conference for growing the collective IQ of your attendees.
New Brain Science Reveals Networking Makes You Smarter
Andrea Kuszewski, a behavior therapist and researcher with METODO Social Sciences Institute was studying how people learn new information, retain it, and use it as a foundation to solve their next problem.
She discovered that networking with other people was one of the best ways to make new learning happen. Her study reinforces that networking fosters learning! And that the social and emotional benefits from it are just icing on the cake.
Four Ways to Make Your Conference Smarter Through Networking
As you plan your next meeting, consider applying Kuszewsk’si four primary principles to your networking experiences. We’ve already discussed her fifth principle which shows networking makes your smarter.
1. Novel Networking
Feed the hunger your attendees have for new information and experiences with fresh new networking experiences. Don’t do the same ole speed networking. Create something different.
When you use novel networking experiences it triggers dopamine in the brain which kicks motivation into high gear. It also stimulates neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—and prepares your brain for learning.
2. Challenge Networking
According to Kuszewski, efficiency is not your friend when it comes to cognitive growth. In order to stimulate the brain to make new connections and keep neurons active, you need to challenge it. So create advanced networking that move attendees into more challenging activities.
For example, networking with people they know is easy. Talking to people they don’t know well is not. Keep them on their toes so to speak for new learning to occur. However, don’t push them so far that they have an emotional hijack or learning stops!
How can you challenge and support your attendees to step out of their comfort zone to meet weak ties at your conference?
3. Creative Networking
How can you incorporate creative networking activities within every session? What if every speaker had their participants meet someone they didn’t know and then answered a creative question?
You might start with “Which creative person do you like more? Picasso or Martha Stewart and why?” Then after one- to two-minutes, have them switch to another person and answer “Dolly Parton or Molly Cyrus and why?” Repeat the process one more time with a question like: “Steve Jobs or Steven Spielberg and why?”
Unusual, creative networking increases information retention and primes the brain for learning.
4. Thought-Provoking Networking
The brain needs to exercise in order to stay healthy. Have speakers start their sessions by asking attendees to find someone they don’t know and brainstorm one possible way to solve a problem. When we use networking experiences that encourage problem solving we’re helping our attendees get smarter.
How have networking experiences at conferences you’ve attended made you smarter? What factors were in play that made that experience so valuable for you?