How to seat your 20-250 attendees in a way that would allow them to maximize the number of connections? How many rounds should there be for everyone to meet everybody else?
Flaws of networking events we all know
Normally you would just place all your guests in a room and have them mingle among themselves. But imagine how many shy people are out there. They would probably just sit down at the bar and finish the evening with one or two accidental business cards.
Solution: repeatedly break people into small groups
Start by breaking the attendees into smaller groups, several people each. Assign each group to a table. Give everyone 1 minute to introduce themselves. This way they won’t have to say their name over and over. Additionally, this setting is more private and comfortable.
Time to switch tables
When a session has ended (everyone at each table has introduced himself) you need to ring a bell. Everybody will move on to meet a completely new group of people, at a different table. And there comes the trickiest part.
Avoid duplicate meetings
If you want to have two rounds only and you are mathematically gifted, you will probably manage to reassign your groups in Excel. But the third round, not even mentioning the fourth or fifth would really be a hassle. You'd end up with lots of duplicate meetings and missed opportunities to make new connections.
Computer generated seating plans
Instead of wasting your precious time, you should leave the rotation plan to a computer. There are specialized tools available on the market, MixerSeater being the most prominent example. This kind of software requires you only to upload your guest list. Various file formats are supported.
You can even ensure people of the same type of business do not get seated together. This is almost impossible without a sofware.
Mobile Seating Guide vs Traditional Badges
With the help of a right tool you can download your seating chart as an Excel file to print out nice badges. Or you can use a mobile seating chart view.
If you are sure that all your guests will be present, it is best to print out badges with identity of participants and their personal seating rotation. They can consult the roster on badges any time.
Event Mobile Webpage
But it is not rare that that some of your attendees may not show up eventually. If you printed your badges the day before your event, you just can't amend them in time. But if you have an internet connection at your venue, the seating chart mobile view will solve the problem.
Everybody Meets Everybody?
There are certain configurations which allow to create a perfect match with no duplication. However, these instances are quite rare. Especially when someone doesn’t show up and disrupts our plan. But when a perfect solution is impossible, your guest will forgive you a couple of duplicate meetings. Even more, they will praise your event for months for making so many new connections. This is the power of computer generated seating.
- Networking Events Organizers group on Facebook
- [VIDEO] How to organize a networking event? Speed networking in groups
- MixerSeater - seating generator