January 15, 2015 by Sarah Michel
Have you ever been a victim of a network drive-by at a conference?
Violated by someone who only talks to you if they think you can do something for them? The whole time they’ve got one eye searching for a more influential target to move to.
Everyone has been burned by someone who in the name of networking, was only pursuing their own selfish agenda. These people have made networking a dirty word.
Speed networking, which unfortunately is still popular with some meeting organizers, promotes transactional networking-only–talking to people to get something from them.
Attendees are pressured to quickly scan people who on the surface might seem like a target to market and sell to. There’s little time for any meaningful dialog. Or to assess how they might be a resource to this person.
Today’s premium attendee is evaluating if your meeting is going to deliver the networking value they need.
Speed networking is not the answer. It’s time to kill it! It serves no one.
It’s difficult to connect with people while pursuing your selfish agenda. By nature, connecting is a giving experience. –John C. Maxwell
Conference organizers need to intentionally design NetWORTHing® opportunities. We’ve got to educate and support attendees to approach others with a connecting mentality. Not a sales mentality.
NetWORTHing® is when you focus on being a resource (worth) to others. And you expect nothing in return!
When you stand at the intersection of life looking for ways to connect people, opportunities and ideas, your networth rises. And your network witnesses first-hand the value you bring to them.
Great netWORTHers are not born, they’re created.
Conference organizers play a big role in promoting netWORTHing® to enhance the value of the face to face meeting. It’s time to create more netWorthers at your next event!
Here are three ways you can promote netWORTHing® to help your attendees grow their networth and social capital.
Create opportunities for attendees to approach people with the intention to help them. Consider using name badges, mobile apps and community boards for attendees to post how they could be a resource to others. Provide pre-conference education opportunities to show attendees how to listen for how information, opportunities and connections that could be of value to others. Goodwill is an unlimited and free resource that can do wonders to transform a conference into a community.
Cavett Robert, the founder of the National Speakers Association (NSA), designed the very first NSA annual convention focused on an abundant mentality. He believed there was plenty of business, ideas, clients, customers and speeches for everyone. He focused on building a bigger pie so all members could get a bigger slice. Over 25 years and 5,000 members later, that’s still their foundation. Spirit of NSA (Cavett’s birthday) reminds members to focus unconditionally on giving of themselves to strengthen the greater community on this day.
Consider opening all sessions by having attendees pair-up using open-ended ice breaker questions that start with; who, what, when, how, why, tell me, etc. that give clues for how they could be helpful to each other. Offer interactive exercises that encourage open-sharing of best practices, solutions and ideas. Everyone goes to a conference to better themselves in some way or another. Be sure your attendees help someone else get better.
What other ways can you foster netWORTHing® at conferences? What support do you need to be able to shift from transactional networking to a netWORTHing® focus to better serve your attendees?
Filed Under: Conference Networking, Experience Design
Great article, Sarah. So true that speed networking is used often, but can defeat the hopes of creating a culture for connection.
Amen Brother Thom! So glad we drink the same kool-aid! 🙂 Great hanging out with you last weekend!!
Great headline, great idea – I so agree that the fun in meeting people is understanding how you can learn from and with them, and how you may be able to help someone accomplish what they need or want to – finding the funny serendipitous moments that create a connection point. It shouldn’t be “work” – it should be the pleasure of attending and being present. Thanks for articulating it so well.
Of course you love this post because you LIVE it! You’re a great networther & I’m blessed to be a part of your massive network! Thanks for being such a great advocate of VCC!
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