Are your staff truly engaging at your hosted networking events?

by | May 18, 2022 | Brand Expression, Networking, Professional Confidence

What message are your staff sending when they fade into the background, instead of truly engaging at your company events?

I recently had a great experience co-hosting an event where executives from both organisations attended, represented their brands and networked with each other.

At so many events I’ve observed, however, companies fail to leverage their advantageous position as event hosts… because their staff aren’t truly engaging.

If you’ve ever attended a corporate-hosted event and seen the branding but not much of the staff, you know what I’m talking about: Team members are not a ‘real presence’ at the event, but fade into the background instead! They arrive late, leave early, chat to the one client they know, or huddle in a corner talking to each other and eating the food. I have seen this even at senior executive level in professional firms, when attempts to ‘network’ are limited because of a lack of strategy, skill or confidence. 

Do your staff know:

  • How to enter the room with confidence?
  • How to circulate, introduce themselves, and connect people?
  • How to be a visible, felt, positive presence in the room?
  • How to talk about their work with clarity, without sounding like they are giving a sales pitch?

When your staff attend your company event, they need to make themselves known for who they are and what they do, and network as peers (no matter what their role) with your important guests.

Don’t rely on your corporate banner to bring in business! Tips to help your staff feel prepared and confident at your next event:

  • Staff should arrive early and leave late. Why? When you are there before the room fills up, you get your bearings and settle in, rather than walk into an intimidating crowd! Leave after the guests leave, because it shows your commitment to being the host and to the organisation you represent. Don’t allow your staff to ‘pop in’; if they can’t be truly present, they should attend the next event instead.
  • Being a ‘host’ means meeting everyone and connecting people – making sure no-one is standing alone, introducing your colleagues to the people you meet etc. – hosting is not just providing the food and drinks! It helps to talk this through with staff and even practise scenarios ahead of time.
  • Senior staff should mix not just in networking but in sitting with guests during the presentation or dining experience – really connecting and being part of the conversation. Sometimes the best conversations are with the person you are seated next to!
  • Upskill junior or support staff early so they are not just ‘invisible’, serving drinks or managing registrations. They can make a great impression too!
  • Have a well-thought-out intro, welcome speech or presentation that truly positions you and your point of difference as a firm, and makes it clear who you work with, how, and to achieve what results… in a succinct and clear statement!
  • Your presenter needs to position as an expert and share this expertise. This means adding value –something like a recent client anecdote, observation or insight will be interesting and memorable to your audience – and will give them something they can’t read online!
  • Equip your key relationship-building staff with a specific plan to connect further in a follow-up conversation, and to stay top of mind for the future.

Having worked with hundreds of businesses and thousands of employees from C-Suite to just starting out, I firmly believe that confidence and effectiveness in networking and business communication come from first being very clear on the brand you represent. Have you given staff adequate opportunities to engage with your brand? To own the brand through building team identities? To align through their personal brands? Almost without exception, I find that organisations have not done this anywhere near as effectively as they could.