How do you provide great networking at conferences? – 90 Second Lesson with William Thomson

We sat down with William Thomson (Events Consultant at Gallus Events) to discuss ways that events should better organize their networking opportunities.

For more of William’s expertise you can check out his Gallus Events Blog.


A lot of events, especially conferences, say they provide great networking, but you don’t believe them… what are these events doing wrong?

Most events, especially conferences, you will see on the flyer ‘provides great networking’. And the most popular blog on my website, which has had over 10,000 hits now, is ‘Is Networking Conference’s Biggest Myth?’. I’ve looked at networking and thought ‘what are we actually doing to properly network’?

Now what organizations are doing wrong is that they’re only having networking during refreshment breaks and during lunch. And they’re not structuring that networking. So it’s serendipity if you meet the person that can really help you, then that’s just chance. And if you meet them while you’re trying to fill your face or empty your bladder, which is what happens during refreshment breaks and lunch, you’re never going to be able to meet those people that you want. So great events are structuring people’s networking.

At Tech Fest which is an event that I run in London this year and that we’re running again next year, we spend hours and hours formulating a questionnaire and analyzing the answers. And what we were doing was putting delegates together, so we were asking a delegate if they had a problem and we were finding another delegate who had a solution and then we were putting them together. Now that solution could have been from a speaker or an exhibitor or a sponsor. We’re creating true networking, putting people together and not just relying on chance. That’s what so few events and especially conferences are doing.