Conference Matchmaking Made Easy
Ideas from Meeting Expectations Conference Planners to Ease through Your Matchmaking Strategy
Like any relationship, matchmaking at conferences is all about the two-way street. Whether you have an event management platform that helps you coordinate matchmaking or it’s a more manual approach, you still need a strategic plan from the onset to ensure both parties have a streamlined, smooth matchmaking experience.
Our conference planners offered their best insights to help you adopt matchmaking and encourage engagement at your next event.
First things first – think about your goals.
Are you linking attendees with other attendees or is your event geared towards building vendor to attendee connections? There are several approaches to take when bridging these connections.
For attendee to attendee connections, Senior Vice President Christine Hilgert suggests setting up brain dates, a concept she experienced at C2 Montreal. Brain dates encourage attendee connections in a casual, more organic way that goes beyond regular networking. You can use an event management platform or a basic pre-conference survey that aligns attendee profiles.
Attendees connect with a peer that either shares similar professional interests or may have expertise on a subject they wish to learn more about. A coffee or a draft beer station acts as the perfect setting for these peer-to-peer learning sessions.
Leverage your conference app.
You can use data-driven event management platforms that integrate registration data with attendee profiles to align attendees to meet each other or exhibitors at events. We've leveraged technologies like IPReg, Grip and Cvent to manage all or some aspects of matchmaking at our client conferences.
Organize vendor-attendee matchmaking by sponsorship levels.
Conference managers Jordan Alexander and Carly Sullivan suggest tying vendor-attendee matchmaking with vendors sponsorship levels.
Weeks before the conference, present vendors with a list of attendees who opted into matchmaking. Vendors with the highest sponsorship level make first-round requests of who they would like to meet with. Each level of sponsorship is given one week to make their requests, then attendees confirm these appointments.
Tying matchmaking to sponsorship levels not only encourages a high level of engagement from event sponsors, it helps conference planners streamline the connections made to an organized timeline. Additionally, it helps the event goal of building meaningful industry relationships between vendors and buyers.
Flip the switch – let attendees take control.
Another approach towards matchmaking is to have attendees choose which vendors they meet with from the onset. Conference manager Katherine Morgan suggests sponsors sign up for the matchmaking process as they come on board, and attendees then choose who they meet with during the registration process. This helps encourage exhibitors and vendors to commit to your conference early.
Communication throughout the process is key.
It’s critical to communicate with both parties and set expectations. Like any meeting, it’s extremely important both parties show up on time and know how long the session will take. Our planners suggest sending a series of best-practices and confirmation emails before the conference takes place to encourage top engagement during these sessions.