The shift from Speed Networking to Deep Networking: A Journey towards Mindfulness

Speed Networking to Deep Networking

Those working in the event industry will tell you that most participants’ #1 request is “More networking opportunities.” However, nobody means “More awkward small talk with strangers in a sterile room.” What they want is more thoughtful connections with meaningful strangers. 

One goal: connecting humans.

Two scenarios.

A Canvas of Authentic Connections: Setting the Stage

networking at c2 mtl 2023

The landscape of event networking pulses towards the creation of spaces where connections are not just made but cultivated deeply and with intent. Event organizers are creating more welcoming immersive experiences that foster real connections and sense of belonging. The bar is higher than before. Not only do they need to bring people together, they need to be mindful of accessibility, equity and inclusion of diverse attendee groups. 

Scenario 1: The Speed Networking (or The Olden Days)

Encounters

You arrive in a conference room, handed a name tag, and take a seat in rows, facing strangers. The facilitator announces the bell will ring every 5 minutes, and you must switch seats each time. The objective: exchange business cards (business what??) as quickly as possible. After the fourth person, you’re already tired of repeating the same small talk.

Finally, a long bell rings, signaling the end. You sigh in relief: you just attended yet another speed networking session, and as usual, you wished that the organizer had come up with something else. You didn’t have time to truly connect with anyone: that’s the work you’ll have to do after the event… if you ever find the time.

Chances are you won’t even remember who’s who.

Scenario 2: The Deep Networking (or What People Crave Now)

Engagement

One week before the event, the organizer prompts you to ponder your intentions for attending the conference.

  • What do you want to learn? 
  • What challenge do you need help in solving? 
  • And what wisdom did you gain last year that could benefit someone else? 

You record your thoughts in the event app and schedule meetings with like-minded folks. On the event day, after registration, you’re guided to the Networking Lounge, where two welcoming hosts greet you by name. The space is thoughtfully designed to foster connections.

Right away, despite the fact that you came on your own, you feel that you belong: you feel at home. Your scheduled meeting partner is already there, introduced by the concierge. Thanks to the well-crafted topic, your conversation goes deeper than what you expected from a «networking session» at a conference. There’s an instant connection, as if you’ve known each other forever.

After a good 45 minutes of sharing, the concierge comes to let you know that your next meeting has arrived. You’re surprised: time flew by and you would have talked longer! No biggie: it is clear that this conversation was the beginning of something deeper… maybe a partnership or at the very least, an international friendship.

You just attended your first Deep networking session, and you can’t wait to tell anyone who will listen how it was the best part of the conference.

g2 testimonial braindate annalisa

“Pitchslapping” is done; it’s over; time to stop it at events as well!”

Anna-Lisa N. – Chief Growth Officer

Engineering Moments of Serendipity: a Fine Balance

Networking at C2 Montreal 2023

How do you engineer serendipity? Many believed speed networking was the answer—giving people the chance to meet as many people as possible, hoping they’d find “the right one”, whatever that meant.

But standing in line for lunch accomplishes just that. Event organizers work hard to bring the right people together so that hallway conversations happen in between sessions all over convention centers. Rich connections require time to prepare, time to settle, time to have brave conversations, time to be grateful, time to say bye and imagine what’s next together.

I see a fine balance between hosted experiences that facilitates networking and the magic of finding yourself at the right place, at the right time because you are surrounded by your peers. It’s not one or the other. It’s the combination of both that will make your event journey memorable and make you feel as though these moments and the people you’ve met would not have happened if you hadn’t attended the event.

Designing a Connection Landscape : a Holistic Approach

Event organizers meticulously envision and build event journeys from the whole participant experience perspective. Every detail counts: from promoting the event to registration to building momentum until it’s show time! When it comes to designing your event connection experience, it should be the same approach. Networking should be an experience, not a feature. Think about the whole attendee journey and their interaction with others. How one activity leads to the next and offers different ways for people to connect with each other, ensuring inclusivity for all.

Ask yourself some questions to guide you along the way:

  • Quality or Quantity: Do we chase numerous fleeting interactions, or do we seek fewer, but richer, deeper connections?
  • Culture of Interactions: Why do people want to come together? Is this the right setting for them to meet? Is there enough time in your event schedule for people to regroup and engage in conversations? 
  • Nurturing Connections: Do we foster bonds that stand the test of time, growing and evolving, or do we settle for connections that fade as quickly as they are formed?

The Speed of Life : The Essence of Time

And honestly, do we need more speed in anything?

  • Do we need more whirlwind trips that cram five countries into three days or more time in one city, soaking up the vibe while comparing gelatos?
  • Do we need more food that’s not food, delivered directly to your stomach in under 90 seconds, or more local, colourful, fresh veggies, grown by Diane (yes, you know her name)?
  • Do we need more audiobooks on fast-forward while we rage at traffic, or more books enjoyed while cuddling with loved ones on the couch?

In essence, do we need more mindlessness or more mindfulness?

I made my choice 12 years ago, and I invite you to keep that in mind when crafting networking sessions for your audience. And of course, we’re here to help if you need it!

Join us in this transformative journey, where we stand ready to guide, nurture, and foster a community that revels in deep connections and enriching interactions, because at the heart of it all, isn’t that what we all truly seek?

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