How to Boost Connections at a Conference

Here’s an experiment to try – ask someone how they got their job, found a new area of interest, or decided to live where they do. Often the answer will involve a friend or colleague connecting them to the opportunity. Information, resources, opportunities, and new learning can flow easily and quickly when our networks of relationships are strong.

It takes intention and practice to create and maintain a culture of strong relationships where people generously share information, resources and opportunities. Conferences can be a place to build networks of relationships, especially if those hosting the event design it with this aim in mind. I created this approach to encourage people to introduce and connect people.

 How to Boost Connections at Your Next Conference Using a Closing Triangles Raffle

Closing triangles is a term I learned from June Holley of Network Weaver, who says it is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to weave a network. When I meet someone new and learn about their interests and needs, I think of someone I can connect them to who might be helpful. When I introduce them, I have closed a triangle.

Early on in a conference, we introduce this idea and share an illustration with a story, e.g., how a mutual friend introduced me to my friend Curtis Ogden. We then introduce the raffle. On the tables are colorful paper triangles. As people talk and meet people through the day, they are encouraged to “close triangles” and introduce people to others who could be helpful, whether in the room that day or not.

People write on the triangle their name and the two people they connected. The triangles are gathered in a big glass jar and throughout the event, names are drawn for people to get prizes, e.g., a book, local food, etc.

At some events, a sense of friendly competition develops. It is heartening to see the triangles piling up, knowing how many new connections are being made. We brought this exercise to NEK Leads, a leadership summit of 200 people in Northern Vermont last week. When my colleague asked a participant what they found most useful at the conference, they responded: “Networking opportunities. The triangle activity was fantastic!”


For more ideas on how to design events to strengthen relationships, see:

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