People go to events for two main reasons.
1. We like the topic and want to hear, meet and hopefully learn from the speaker(s).
2. We aim to meet new people by networking, learn new stuff and perhaps gain a new prospect or two for our business.
But apart from enabling the talk and providing refreshments, most organisers do nothing proactive to help effective networking.
"Roomsourcing" is the answer!
Firstly get everyone into groups of 5 or 6 people preferably who do not know each other.
Give each person a roomsourcing sheet. You can make these up yourself or copy this one I use for groups of 6 people.
Each person writes their name and organisation at the top. Then they write 10 words in the top large lozenge shape. Not just any 10 words but 2 products/services, 2 markets, 2 USPs, 2 oddities (what makes them different) and 2 personal hobbies.
When everyone is ready, they all pass their sheet to the person on their left.
Once a person receives a sheet they put their initials or name in one of the blank circles. Then they write down in that circle any ideas they have about how they (that person or business) can work together with the person or business described in the top lozenge.
They have just 1 minute to write down those ideas.
After a minute everyone passes the sheet to the next person on their left. Each person selects a new blank circle, adds their initials and comes up with new ideas about how to work with the business described at the top of this new sheet.
This process continues each minute until the sheets get back to their original owners.
Now give everyone a further 5 minutes to talk to each other in their group about the ideas suggested and to exchange business cards.
This quick version of roomsourcing takes 10-15 minutes all told. The outcomes vary but nearly always there is noisy chatter as groups or sub-groups pick up on unexpected discoveries of relevant skills, experience or simply things in common.
A longer version of roomsourcing is useful if there is time. After further discussion, one person from each group pitches its major strengths as a potential joint venture to the rest of the room in less than a minute.
The overall effect is that
a) each group learns yet more about each other
b) everyone in the room hears something about the strengths in all groups and (if useful) can make a beeline later to a group to find the relevant person or business.
The end result after about 30 minutes is a real buzz, many many conversations and often new business contacts, prospects and potential collaborations.
Need a facilitator? Email firstname.lastname@example.org