During my time in exhibitions I always thought about how technology can be used to improve the experience of exhibitors and visitors. I noticed that exhibitors would get given multiple sheets of paper handouts with important information that would get lost during the event, having to find an organiser if they needed help with their stand or had a question would be hard to find as organisers were very busy. The natural idea I had was to have an app that would encourage events to go paperless and make it easier to contact organisers. Whilst this would solve these problems (and I still think is useful), I was missing out on the main reason why people would come to these events which was to network. So whilst these issues were relevant, if an exhibitor or visitor found the connections they were looking for they would soon forget about the issues mentioned and be happy that they had a successful event.
What Linkedin has done over the past few months is introduce 2 new features within their app that I think will help with the main goal of an event… making connections. So what are these 2 features and how can they be used to help make more connections at an event?
This feature which can be found on the “my network” tab of your Linkedin app. When enabled, it will show people in the vicinity who also have it switched on. So how can this be incorporated during event? As it is a new feature, it still needs to be encouraged, as it requires everyone having the option switched on.
This can be done pre-show through emails, and on your website. During the show, it can be announced during the event or at the door, on the front of exhibition guides, signs within networking areas, notifications if you already have an app, with handouts, and also during any talks and presentations where you have a large group of people congregated in one area.
2. QR Code
This can be found by tapping on the QR symbol in the search bar of the app and allows people to instantly connect on linkedin through a scan of a persons code. Now with my experience at shows recently they have had badge scanners, or something similar. The problem with this is you are relying on the information they would have filled out during the event to be accurate…which from my experience is not always the case. Also I do not think this will replace swapping business cards as you will not have their phone number with this message. However it is a good way to stand out amongst the many people you meet, increase your Linkedin network and provide a way to stay connected and be remembered amongst the crowds. People tend to remember a face more than a name, so make sure your Linkedin profile picture is amazing (just like you are)!
It will be interesting to see how much these new features of Linkedin get used and how people will use them. Hopefully this will give you some ideas if you are hosting or visiting an event to create a more connected experience.
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