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1 February 2023 

9 Exceptional Networking Event Examples

Bizzabo Blog Staff
Bizzabo Blog Staff
9 Exceptional Networking Event Examples

Networking is as old as time itself, but how networking event examples look today couldn’t be more different than just a few years ago.

After what seemed like an eternity of planning virtual networking events, you’re probably ready to jump back into in-person networking events. But the reality is there’s no going “back” to normal. There’s only leaning into the next generation of networking opportunities, which means getting creative about connecting in-person and virtual audiences for seamless networking and connection.

Table of Contents

What are networking events?

All events can provide networking opportunities for attendees to engage and connect with other individuals. Networking events aren’t just a particular type of gathering. Instead, organizers can find opportunities to help attendees find valuable connections at any (or nearly any) event.

The next generation of networking events consists of in-person events, virtual events, and hybrid events. Hybrid events aren’t just conferences and trade shows with a streaming component. They incorporate various digital components, from gaming competitions to communication between in-person and online participants, and more.

Who organizes networking events?

Anyone in any industry can organize networking events for any reason. In many cases, networking events are part of a larger event while in others networking events are standalone experiences.

For example, you may be hosting a user conference to share product updates and thought leadership, but you may also want to help your users network to expand their reach, find a new job, or to connect with like-minded folks on relevant topics.

How can event organizers make networking events successful?

Although event organizers like to think that attendees show up to absorb event content, we know the reality: Event participants want to network!

The No. 1 thing you can do to ensure networking event success is to create a detailed plan with a clear timeline and plenty of buffer space for ad hoc networking in between activities or sessions. There’s nothing worse than attending a networking event that is overly structured and doesn’t leave any breathing room for 1:1 connections.

What about connecting virtual and in-person audiences?

Networking entirely in-person or completely virtually is easy enough. But in today’s world of hybrid and satellite events you have to know how to provide equitable networking experiences that connect in-person and virtual attendees.

But how?

The key to ensuring you’re delivering the best networking events possible is to find the right event management software. The best software will help you connect attendees for 1:1 meetings and networking opportunities, no matter where they are.

Here’s what your networking-driven event management software partner should offer (and what Bizzabo provides!):

  • The ability for attendees to easily find other attendees and chat with them 1:1 before, during, and after the event.
  • The ability for attendees to initiate 1:1 spontaneous meetings with the click of a button.
  • The ability for attendees to book meetings at a virtual or in-person location based on attendees’ set availability using a  smart scheduler.


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9 Networking Event Examples

1. SXSW

 

event networking examples at SXSW
Source: SXSW

SXSW is the networking event of the year for educators, digital professionals, musicians, filmmakers, and more. SXSW facilitates connection and networking through many avenues, including meetups, multi-day lounges, niche parties, roundtable discussions, and more.

Top that off with impromptu networking on the tradeshow floor, throughout the halls of the expo center, and on nearby streets, and SXSW is the ultimate example of networking events done right. Not sure how to network at SXSW successfully? Check out this video tutorial for tips.

2. Empower Conference

 

Empower 21 Agenda Example
An example of streamed on-demand and in-person-only sessions powered by the Bizzabo Agenda from the Empower Conference.

Empower 21 was one of the first hybrid events in 2021. Unlike previous hybrid events that used a variety of event solutions, Empower 21 was one of the first hybrid events ever powered by a single hybrid event platform. (Learn more by reading the case study!)

By using Bizzabo, Empower 21 streamlined its registration process for in-person and virtual attendees. Plus, the enhanced integration allowed in-person attendees to network with their virtual counterparts. It created one unified audience across in-person and virtual. Attendees could communicate, interact, and share the same experience.

3. Social Media Marketing World

 

Social Media Marketing World
Source: Social Media Examiner

The organizers behind Social Media Examiner excel at creating networking events, including its Social Media Marketing World. The organizers behind Social Media Examiner enable thousands of registrants to connect before they even step foot in the event venue through the following methods:

  • Private LinkedIn groups
  • Slack channels
  • Live online meetups

But that’s just the beginning. Once the event begins, there are icebreakers in epic venues and much more.

4. Snowflake Summit

Snowflake Summit Example
Snowflake Summit’s agenda powered by Bizzabo

Snowflake Summit is a virtual networking event that offers more than 60 online sessions with more than 50,000 professionals joining in. Participants learn about the latest in data science, data engineering, and data sharing technologies. Even though the entire event was online, participants had the opportunity to collaborate and connect with others.

5. Under 30 Summit by Forbes

 

The Under 30 Summit
Source: Forbes

With thousands of attendees, an event village, and a music festival, the organizers behind the Forbes Under 30 Summit pull out all the stops.

For example, The Under 30 Summit distinguished itself by implementing a Day of Service into the weekend-long event several years ago, partnering with Boston Public Schools to allow participants to mentor local students. This event strategy encourages networking and partnerships amongst attendees and the greater community while improving brand sentiment.

6. Elevate by Agency Nation

 

Elevate by Agency Nation
Source: Agency Nation

Elevate is an “unconference” led by Agency Nation. Taking place in Cleveland, the two-day event targets insurance professionals. Elevate created an online community through its event management software so attendees can message each other and connect using their LinkedIn profiles.

This exclusive community benefitted attendees because they could get to know other attendees before event day. Integrating an online community ensures that registrants foster long-term (and easily accessible) connections, making the in-person experience all the more valuable.

7. Breakaway CEO Summit by Bloomberg

 

examples of networking events
Source: Bloomberg

Bloomberg — no stranger to digital media by any means — took its recurring CEO event virtual during the COVID pandemic and didn’t lose an ounce of steam.

The Breakaway CEO Summit a few years ago fittingly focused on human capital — finding, recruiting, training, and connecting with both employees and customers. The one-day event (preceded by an opening dinner the night before) gave CEOs the chance to go deep on a topic that made a difference through the pandemic.

8. Dreamforce by Salesforce

 

Dreamforce by Salesforce networking event
Source: Salesforce

Dreamforce by Salesforce features some of the best networking opportunities. For instance, the Equality Summit raised more than $1 million for workforce equality and featured role-segmented sessions.

However, it is Dreamforce‘s use of personalization and human touch that truly differentiates Dreamforce from other networking events. Dreamforce attendees are called “Trailblazers,” cementing event registrants as innovators within their respective industries. This simple tactic fosters the Dreamforce community by inviting attendees to consider themselves a part of a more-than 171,000-person family.

Moreover, Salesforce created a post-event cookbook, featuring “Trailblazer” recipes paired with apps. This quirky, informational offering allowed attendees to be featured within the event community and awarded contributing attendees an innovative platform to connect with attendees and Salesforce community members.

9. Gainsight Pulse

Gainsight example
Gainsight Pulse Agenda powered by Bizzabo

Gainsight Pulse 2021 offered a virtual hub for customer success professionals to learn and network. With three days of live and streaming content, leaders developed new ways to build teams, manage customer success, and grow their careers in product management.

A-list speakers, including Mindy Kaling, Nick Mehta, and François Locoh-Donou, led sessions at the customer Success and Product talent virtual event.

Participants chose from more than 55 sessions, which were available live or on-demand. Because virtual events offer so many sessions, it’s essential to invest in a powerful event software solution like Bizzabo that can make a clear agenda for participants.

Plan Your Next Networking Event

Effective networking is crucial to your event’s success. Here are the main takeaways recapped before you organize your next great networking event:

  1. Networking is all about bringing people together. Find a memorable way to do it that fits your event strategy.
  2. Keep in mind that entertainment is a part of networking, but attendees must see its value (a return on their investment if you will).
  3. Optimize all networking opportunities by considering online strategies before, during, and after your event. Online communities add an element of exclusivity and motivate attendees to connect.
  4. Use all available tools at your disposal — location, sponsorships, partnerships, previous attendee mentorship programs — you may have more than you realize at your fingertips. Don’t miss a potentially great opportunity.
  5. Be creative. Networking is complex; even the thought of it can be overwhelming. Consider ways of facilitating the networking experience to allow your event attendees to get the most value from the resources you’ve provided.
  6. Don’t forget about engaging introverts in networking! Facilitating ways for introverts to network can be a powerful way to expand your ROI and deliver a better user experience.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for relevance.


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