MixerSeater: Networking event seating char generator

How to run group-based speed networking event



In this tutorial for event planners we'll cover:
  • Guest list for group-based speed networking event
  • Event check-in
  • Table layout / table rotation (seating chart)
  • Guiding the participants through the event


Prerequisites

  • 20-200 attendees expected (even up to 1000!)
  • 4-20 tables
  • 3-10 sessions (table changes)
  • 1-2 hours
In a simple one-on-one speed networking event everyone meets everybody else. But if you have more than 20-30 attendees this event format becomes very exhaustive. So why can't we match only the people who are mutually interested in meeting each other?

The proposed solution is to have larger tables (4-10 people) and – preferably – group people according to their areas of interests / industries. We only need 3-4 table changes (session / rounds) to match all people together.

This way you can easily host 100 or even 1000 (!) people.

Guest List

The key group-based events advantage over the one-on-one format is that the attendees can save time and avoid making unmeaningful connections. But to achieve this we need to know upfront: what people would your attendees like to meet during the event?

What you need is a simple Excel sheet, containing your attendees' industries / areas of interest.


The best way to get this information is to ask two simple questions when people are signing up for the event:
1. Which industry best describes you?
2. Which industries do you wish to meet people in?

You can switch "industry" to "area of interest" if this is better for your event. But it is essential to know the list of all industries before the first person fills in your questionnaire.


How to ask attendees about their industries / areas of interests?

If you don't have your own, on-line tool to ask those questions, here are some ideas.

1. Eventbrite

If you're advertising your event on Eventbrite, you can ask some additional questions when your attendees are downloading (or purchasing) their tickets. You can even make those questions compulsory.
After the event registration is complete you can download your guest list as a CSV file (it is called Eventbrite Attendee Report).

2. SurveyMonkey

You can create a simple survey on SurveyMonkey (it's free). The tool will send it to your attendees automatically – you just need to paste the email addresses. When the survey is complete you can download the results as a CSV file.

Feel free to use other on-line survey tools.

How many industries / areas of interest should there be?

We would recommend something between 5 and 20. But feel free to experiment as each event is different.

Event Check-in

Has it ever happened to you that everybody who signed up for the event actually showed up? The reality is that only 50-80% of the guests will probably make it on the day of the event.

This implies that if you generate a seating chart for the event before the check-in has been completed you may see a lot of empty seats.

Since the process is really simple and straightforward, we recommend generating the seating chart for the event only after you have finished the check-in. If you are using an on-line tool for this purpose (like Eventbrite) – just re-export the attendees report. If you are using Excel – delete the absent attendees from the final attendance list file.

Seating Chart Generation

You just need to upload your most up to date participant list onto MixerSeater. It should take no longer than 5 minutes. The following guide covers the process in detail:

Speed Networking Rotation

Guiding the Participants through the Event

All right, so you've just generated your table rotation diagram, all participants are already there – how to instruct them where to go?

Each MixerSeater based event has its own, unique link which you can send to your attendees days before the event. Each attendee can see on their mobile where to sit during each session and who will they meet in every round. The above guide covers it in detail.