We’ve been hearing it for years.
Conference organizers have been on a quest to create a 365-day community around their big annual event. As a result, industry education sessions and event technology products have adopted the year-round concept and branding.
But there’s a problem, attendees and exhibitors aren’t falling in line.
They’ll give you their attention for a limited time and then move on with their pressing priorities. They’re not interested in 365. They’re interested in solving their problems and growing their professional network. Period.
Start with Baby Steps
Most conference organizers do a decent job of delivering education and networking value before and during the event. Pre-conference webinars, publishing attendee lists and leveraging mobile apps to facilitate like-minded connections are all great examples.
But what about after the conference?
How do you keep the conversations alive and how long can they be sustained? How can new connections made through the networking experiences be nurtured?
Consider setting the bar at a more realistic level. If you can keep the conversations alive for 30 or even 60 days following your conference, you’ll win the loyalty lottery.
5 Ways to Foster Connexity After Your Conference
Most organizers want to quickly close out the conference and move to the next project. If you want to grow community and loyalty, consider these five connexity strategies:
1. Challenge them.
During the conference, provide attendees helpful tips on how to network effectively. Reinforce a culture of helping others before expecting them to help you. Give them solid advice on how to follow-up and take hallway connections to the next level.
2. Allow for a breather.
Attendees need time to decompress and play catch up following a conference before you can real them back-in. During and immediately after the conference, provide shareable memories of the experience. Give them at least 7 – 10 days before leveraging content and then…
3. So what, now what?
Many progressive conference organizers have adopted the “know before you go” email with valuable resources and information to help attendees learn, connect and grow. So why not create something like that for after?
Help them capitalize on their participation with links to handouts to share with co-workers and their network. Provide tips on how to follow-up with new and rekindled connections. Don’t try to sell them anything, just help them be a better resource to their professional network.
4. Social scheduled re-plays.
Leverage your best conference content to keep the conversation going within your community. Schedule re-play sessions captured on video or continue a popular session via webinar. Leverage the power of social learning during these offerings with a focus on helping participants connect. On-demand offerings don’t have that power.
Enable chat and spark the dialogue by asking attendees to type in where they’re tuning in from to break the ice. Design the experience to keep dialogue steady throughout. Schedule these every one to two weeks to improve conference amplification and participant value.
5. Nurture 1st timers and sophomores.
Loyalty is often sustained after the second renewal is achieved. Content alone will rarely lead to renewal. Feeling part of a tribe will. That means you need to nurture the heck out of conference customers in their first two years. The best way to accomplish this is through genuine care and personal outreach.
Go grassroots by encouraging chapter or regional representatives to make personal calls. Find out if they’ve implemented any new ideas picked up from the conference? Are there any problems or goals they’re struggling with? Who do you know that might be a great resource for them?
Delivering connexity value after your conference will require an investment of time and resources. The payoff, however is huge. Can you afford not to?
What other ideas have you seen or witnessed that fostered continued connection after a conference? How could grassroots help support this important initiative?