In the months that past since July of 2007 I have participated in many networking events in Israel. Some as a blogger, some as a photographer, some to look for a job, some as someone who works in the Internet industry and the rest as someone who knows many of the people already.
Some were effective, some were poor, some were brilliant.
Apart from conventions and cocktail parties which are a natural place for networking (hey, a supermarket line is a natural place for networking for all I’m concerned) I participated in three other unique ways of network events, all happened just recently in Tel Aviv.
One, breakfast with Jeff Pulver. He planned it all to the resolution of pens and stickers. What’s so brilliant about the way it worked was that the stickers emulated the Facebook experience which was proven as working, i.e sticker and stick notes were distributed among the participants and were used as ice breakers, as conversation topics and as creative catalysts (pokes, walls, you name it). On the latter I can say that when people are busy in creative thinking they are not busy with the way they look and it enables them to be free around the other men and women participating.
Second was a VC Cafe breakfast, with Eze Vidra from ask.com at the helm. We sat down after connecting 8-10 round tables together (Eze called it “a round table” meetup) and started telling some things about ourselves, what we do and what we are looking for. We had no name tags but the main thing for me was to know what everyone else are doing at present and what they are looking for. Other than that, there was no agenda.
So, to sum those two breakfasts- Jeff’s was good because stickys were used as tag clouds “on-body” and as conversation catalysts. Vidra’s breakfast was good because you knew from the beginning who interests you and how you can connect one person to the other really fast and without “touring” all the crowd.
I just came back from a panel meetup called: “Startups and Brand…” which is a monthly meetup organized by Or-Tal Kiriati. This meet up gets experts on different fields and today it was about marketing. The event is not about networking, but it starts later than scheduled, and ends a lot after the panel has said its’ last word, so networking gets a big part of the schedule even though it’s a “come listen to experts and ask your questions” kind of event.
The Best of Both worlds
business networking events should be planned for networking experience maximization
A- Name tags for everyone, guests, participants and organizers
B- If its a round table make everyone speak
C- Make Internet available
D- Noisy places not good, control the volume of the environment, cafes don’t always work
E- Tell people to bring cameras. photos make the event last even after it’s over
F- Create a tag or a page where people can post their data (videos, photos, posts), it’s a good way to index and save those events for future reference
G-Think about what your audience will want to have. Think about the experience you’re delivering. If you make it your business to network people on events have an agenda and make it easier for people to network