The idea of networking in the era of social distancing might be an interesting challenge. The challenge lies in the fact that people will probably hold on to keeping a safe distance whenever they can. Also, we’ll have to learn how to live with COVID-19 and evolve the way events and conferences are organized. Networking at events, fairs, trade shows has always been a way to establish new connections and even attract new clients. Thus, we’ll talk about the best way to ensure social distancing while still holding an in-person event.
Every one of your attendees should know about the rules before the event. You can write the guidelines in the event description you’ll post online. The attendance rules should outline the following:
- Masks are mandatory.
- Keep a safe distance at all times.
- Sit at your assigned seats.
- Handshakes, hugs, and other gestures are not advised and will be frowned upon. Nods and smiles are accepted.
You should also have several people at the event whose job will be to remind people to respect the rules. People are easily distracted when they see someone they know. So, it might be useful to have several people there to remind them to keep a distance while they keep their distance too.
The number of people
It is evident that hosting large scale events with thousands of visitors is something that might not happen anytime soon. Until we know that there’s a vaccine that keeps us all safe from this vicious virus, the number of attendees should be quite limited. The number of attendees will be defined by the venue size. So, calculate how many people can attend your event at a particular location with safe distancing in mind.
You can also host several presentations throughout the day for a limited number of people. For example, while one group of people listens to the presentation, the previous group can move to a different section of the venue and discuss the product or the service. The networking session depends on the type of event.
In order to prevent people from roaming freely during the event, you need to adapt to the venue. First, look for a place with an open floor layout which you can manipulate easily. Then you should discuss the venue of choice with an event management company so you’ll know how it can be partitioned and organized with social distancing in mind.
Crowd cords are an affordable way to partition the venue so that people can keep their safe distance. You can also put a floor sticker every six feet so they’ll know where to stop to maintain a safe distance. These social distancing floor stickers should be in bright colours so everyone will notice them easily. In any case, you should make a detailed floor plan before you even let the people know about the event.
Physical distancing measures
We’ve already mentioned crowd cords and highly visible floor stickers which can be used to map out the venue for keeping the safe distance. There are also other types of physical distancing measures that are defined by the type of event. If you plan to host the event in a theatre-like room with rows of seats, you should assign the seat to each participant so there won’t be any confusion.
Every second and third-row should be empty to ensure the legroom. Also, at least two seats both on the left and right of the participant should be empty. If you plan on hosting round table discussions, a seven-people table should be downsized to just three people. You should also put some Plexiglas partitions on the table so people will feel safe even if they’re sitting at the same table with two other people.
Complimentary swag ideas
Giving complementary gifts to attendees at an event is a common practice. These are often some branded objects like hats, pens, notebooks or anything else that might be useful and will promote your logo. Instead of giving out stationary packed in lovely bags, you can hand out branded face masks and hand sanitizers in a bottle with your logo on it.
Your gift will be perceived as thoughtful and it is also another way of making sure everyone is safe. Someone always forgets their mask and this will fix their error. They will use the mask you provided as a gift. Hand sanitizers should be available all over the place as well. But, the small complimentary bottle will also show that you care about your attendee’s wellbeing by handing them their personal bottle.
The impact of COVID-19 will definitely change the way people network at events. While we mostly rely on online and virtual events, the time will come to get back to an in-person event once again. This article will help you prepare for one with all the safety measures in mind.