New research released by Cvent, 2 October, indicates that much work needs to be done within the events sector to maximise the ROI of attending networking events.
Global event technology specialists have unveiled the results of their latest research, designed to uncover areas of opportunity within the £18.1bn conference and meetings sector in the UK.
The research, conducted in partnership with the Atomik agency, was based on input from 2,000 executives across the UK.
Executives were asked about the thoughts they had before attending a business networking event, and only one third of respondents said they looked forward to the networking opportunities.
More than a quarter (28%) said they often felt disinterested in networking and used the time to make business calls or review work emails on their mobile devices.
A fifth surveyed said they were happy to be going to events for the food and beverage offerings and not the networking, while 16% said it was stressful to attend and engage with their industry peers.
Despite these findings, two-thirds of business executives in the UK believe their manager would expect them to return with a business lead or convert an existing opportunity as a result of their time spent networking at an event, which indicates organisations that send their employees to networking events are looking for tangible results from the time that was spent.
“Business owners across the country invest incredible amounts of time and money for their employees to attend business networking events. Networking plays a vital role in growing a business – nothing is better than meeting face-to-face to get business done. Yet our research reveals that while employees are aware of the overarching expectation to either generate new leads or make valuable professional connections, there is a disconnect between these expectations and the ability to actually execute on them,” said Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer at Cvent.
Smith added that event planners needed to be prepared to think about engaging attendees prior, during and even after the event so the connections made onsite can be cultivated into long-term business relationships. “Our survey results illustrate that there is a desire for this kind of offering and it can be facilitated through the use of mobile event apps and other digital platforms. In addition, event organisers should be prepared to consider how they could change a potentially tired format, so attendees feel enthused and inspired to connect with other attendees.”
Other highlights of Cvent’s research include:
- There is a desire for ‘How to’ networking training.
A majority (52%) claimed not to have been provided with training within their company on how to be a better networker.
- Preparation is key.
More than a quarter (27%) said that when organisers had provided a list of attendees prior to the event, they found engaging easier, while 20% sited the value of using speed networking sessions and mobile event apps to help them connect with new or existing prospects.
- Mobile and digital are the way of the future, it seems, with 23% of attendees suggesting events could be improved if organisers create a digital platform for attendees to more easily connect before, during, and after the event.
The Cvent CONNECT Europe conference continues, 2 October, in London.