Way too many B2B events are run-of-the-mill affairs nowadays.
Attendees show up, less for the content, and more for the face-time; but go home overloaded with the former, and underwhelmed by the latter.
Most B2B events, in fact, are about as personal as a trip on the New York City subway.
If you want to up the "personal" ante at your next event, take a page from niche-publishing event organizer Carl Landau, who includes a one-hour "speed dating" session at the start of his events.
Carl's version of speed dating is simple: attendees gather in a huge room, grab a drink, and sit down on either side of a string of long banquet tables. The folks on one side remain stationery for 45 minutes; the folks on the other move one seat to their right, every three minutes.
Each couple has just three minutes to break the ice, disclose a bit about themselves, and see what interests they share.
I experienced Carl's brand of speed dating (also known to event planners as a "seat swap") at his Super Niche Media Event last month.
It was nothing short of remarkable.
In 45 minutes, I got acquainted with 15 other attendees. It gave me a solid sense for the issues people are wrestling with; the types of businesses that employ them; what in particular brought them to the conference; and their experiences with, and expectations of, live events like Super Niche Media Event.
Don't think it'll work for you?
Try it as a test with a select group. If it doesn't work, scrap it; if it does, scale it.
One Super Niche Media Event attendee told me he was put off by the experience when one partner (a supplier) sat down and simply blurted out, "So, who buys your printing?"
It's easy to prevent that sort of heavy-handedness. Here's how:
1. Get two staff members to role-play the "wrong way" and the "right way" to handle an ice-breaking moment;
2. Videotape them and upload the video to YouTube;
3. Email all suppliers, the day before your event, a link to the 60-second video.
Title your video Goofus and Gallant Go on a Speed Date. .
When it comes to conversing, who doesn't need a little refresher?
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