FACULTY OF ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
in Socializing Friday networking events
Course: Team Building
Course Number: 721560S
Lecturer: John Meewella
Timing: Autumn 2011
This report is a team assignment for Team Building course. The subject of the report is team building in Socializing Friday networking events.
The report explores the ways how Socializing Friday events can be developed further in order to strengthen inter-organizational team building possibilities in them. Factors that impact possibilities for effective team building are identified through the event life cycle and practical proposals for improvement are given. Strengthening the event itself helps SocFri to foster growth, expedite development and also secure continuity and expansion.
The networking can start already before the event. The social media can be used for this purpose by offering the starting point for upcoming face-to-face discussion. The social media can support team building activities also after the event by supporting discussions as well collecting stories and feedback. It can be a prime way of advertising the event. In the event the starting point would be good in order to lower the barrier for interaction. It would also give some structure to the event. Small-scale activities or tasks would also help people in getting to know each other. Even though the guests are responsible for actions (connecting with other guests) during the event, SocFri can make it easier for them. After the event the discussions can continue in the social media. Feedback is analyzed and reflected. A thank you note can be sent with conclusions and next steps.
2PROCESS OF ORGANIZING THE NETWORKING EVENT
2.1Before the event - Planning......
2.2During the event – Controlling and monitoring......
2.3After the event – Reflecting......
3TEAM BUILDING MODEL
3.1Before the event......
3.2During the event......
3.3After the event......
4OVERALL PICTURE OF THE TEAM BUILDING MODEL FOR SOCFRI
In a business life, it is not always what you know but who you know that makes difference to get most benefits out on the field. The right social network can have a huge impact on business organization's success. But many of us have misguided ideas about what how a strong network is formed. The key is not to have a large circle filled with high-powered contacts. It is best to have select but diverse network, made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from varying spheres and from up and down the corporate ladder. (Cross & Thomas 2011: 149–150.) This is why all kind of people are needed also in the Socializing Friday events.
The Socializing Friday events should be organized so that diverse people are interested in participating and find it easy to talk with each other. The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas and support. That requires also listening. The most important skill for effective business networking is focusing on how you can help the person rather than on how he or she can help you. (Ward 2010.) The reciprocal relationships tend to be more fruitful. (Cross & Thomas 2011: 153).
We think that the Socializing Friday event as a concept has to be ready and fully working before expanding it into other cities. Therefore in this report we are concentrating on team building aspects in the event itself. We see that also the structure of the event can support team building activities i.e. what happens before, during and after the event will have an effect on arising cooperation. This brings more value add to the participants and the organizers as well. Our decision is based on the interview with SocFri representatives and the contents of our course. We see that with this kind of practical approach we can offer implementable solutions in order to foster growth, development as well continuity of SocFri.
2 PROCESS OF ORGANIZING THE NETWORKING EVENT
2.1 Before the event - Planning
Before the Event - Organizers
1. Advertisement - Social media prime way of advertising.
People can start networking before the event has taken place. Social media is a good and cost effective (free) way to take first steps towards networking before coming to actual event. Comments on the Facebook pages give an easy and good starting point for the upcoming face-to-face discussions. Also for introvert people it is often easier to start creating connections when the first touch is made virtually beyond a safety barrier granted by social media. And finding these first contacts through an easy way may have a great effect on how many of these introverts can be seen on the event itself.
Social media can also be seen as a tool that allows people to put faces for the names. Through Facebook people can see how others look like before meeting them. This will most likely lower people’s threshold to start conversations in the events and is highly important for participants who come to the event to make contact with someone who they don’t know beforehand as this will make pinpointing right person easier.
SocFri people should actively keep up discussions about upcoming event and hype it. By doing this right way, SocFri can enhance the wanted mysterious reputation of the event. It also helps tailoring the event as people can comment on what kind of topics they might want to have and gives easy way to give feedback.
2. Registration - Way beforehand the actual event.
Allows collecting comprehensive database of people coming to event(s).
Database, with above mentioned social media, allows people to search people based on their needs. This is crucial for the people who are not just coming to hang around and have clear goal in their head. Also a visible participant list may work as an incentive to other people to come around. If one spots an interesting person among the participants the odds rise that also he or she will attend to the event in hope of really finding some practical benefits during the afternoon.
It is important that to keep registration information optimal. Not all people want everyone see what they are after in the event (employee looking for new job opportunities). Yes, people can always lie why they are participating, but building trust as an effective media for networking and reliable source of connections requires high confidentiality from the company.
Possible items in database: picture, name, expertise, what is looking for, contact information. Person who signs up should be able to tag information as "classified" and hide it from others.
3. Practical arrangements - Quality over quantity
Practical arrangements in the event we participated were not that high standard. The event lacked so called "womans touch". All tableware were disposal ones, salad didnt have tools to take it, event run out snacks rather quick, drinks were more or less just thrown on the table Many of these could be improved with small effort that would increase professional feel of the event and would increase the probability of people coming again.
Organizers were difficult to spot. Only way to know who were the organizers were green badge leashes. Easiest way to improve this would be common uniform for all organizers. This could be something easy as unified blouse with SocFri logo on front or back (they guy making Michael Jackson moves). This was more or less true with the sponsor representatives. This could be done with blouse also, but it should have different color than the organizer one and should have logos of both, SocFri and sponsoring company.
The place could have few monitors hung up on ceiling showing small advertisements from sponsors. These could also be used to improve atmosphere (SocFri logo guy dancing), share information etc. Also a bit of decoration considering the current theme would be a great way to great a warm and comfortable atmosphere. That would require a little effort from the organizers as in most cases these items can't be bought but should be acquired other ways such as lending, borrowing or from sponsors.
4. Sponsors - More money, more publicity
Though event is planned to be non-profit the organizing still requires money. For this reason sponsorship should have different levels. Each level could give more publicity:
- level 1 - Company gets her name to social media, can give introduction speech at the beginning of event, identifiable blouse.
- level 2 - Same as level 1, but also has spot for banner(s) at the event.
- level 3 - Same as level 1 & 2, but has advertisement on monitors.
GLOBAL, LOCAL, EVENT - sponsors
It's worth noticing that sponsorship in these kind of events gives a huge advantage compared for such a little effort and money. Comparing to for example sponsorship in football games (organizations pay big money) in SozFri the sponsorships means advertising but also way to achieve bigger goals. It can benefit from getting new customers, recruits or network links because just that audience and those people have gathered in that event. Same doesn't happen in most sponsorship cases.
In the planning phase of the event it is important to think about: why, who, where, when and how. Also the SMART goals can be used i.e. goals and planning need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific.
Goals need to specific so that it is easy to judge whether those are reached or not. Specificity is related to measurements. Goals need to be measureable. They also need to be achievable and realistic, e.g. necessary resources are available. The goals have to be bound into the time so that there is enough but not too much time.
Objective for a networking event can be e.g. to achieve attendance of at least 30 new guests at Socializing Friday event on the 13th of January 2010 by SocFri people actively promoting the event in the social media during 2.1.–13.1.2012.
2.2 During the event – Controlling and monitoring
The event consists of three phases: arriving to the event, introduction of the invited guests and networking game. Participants may choose how much to participate in each of these.
Arriving to the Event
Start here (we can still name it something else as well...)
There are two important reasons for having this starting lane. One is to lower the barrier to interaction to those who do not feel it's a natural skill, such as the more introvert people. The other is to bring some structure into the event which is also appreciated by certain people. These reasons will both lower the barrier to enter the event and to participate and interact during the event. In order to build more effective teams, we need different types of personalities, all of which do not appreciate just hanging around or may see social settings and unknown people somewhat difficult. Also different themes may be used to address certain type of people.
Starting point is not mandatory to complete, but everyone should go there and get their name tags. There are options in implementing this: tags could be there ready to be picked up, or people could print them out there. Those who are familiar with the starting point could then head out to the crowd or grab some food or drinks. We considered that while we know who are attending the event, this is the kind of information that also benefits the participants themselves. The cost of producing such slips or stickers is considerably low and reguires a little effort, as all of the information to be put into the tag can be gathered while people make their registrations to the event. We would like to put forward the idea of giving name tags to people based on multiple reasons. Firstly, it helps to identify the sponsors and hosts of the event and therefore contacting them is easier. Secondly, if a person is looking for someone he/she is especially interested to contact after glancing the participant list, it is possible to find those people with somewhat less effort than without the name tags. Thirdly, name tagging people help participants to remember the names of the interesting people. As there is a lot of (more or less) sophisticared babbling going over at the event, it is not always that easy to hear names correctly. Further we put forward an idea of including some personal information on the tags addingly to participants name, position and employer.
Next step or steps in the starting point would be activities to lower the barrier to start a conversation with unknown people. There shouldn't be too many tasks or tasks that take a long time to complete, and also they may vary between events so that the starting point is not the same every time.
Possible activities could be:
- Goal setting: the participant plans who to talk to during the event. A participant list helps.
- Participant gets a small ABC of how to socialize: tips on how to start conversations and a reminder to keep in touch afterwards.
- A short intro into pitching oneself (for instance a basic one sentence structure).
The doors to the event should open about 1h earlier than the invited guests are introduced. This gives everyone the chance to enter the starting point before the event actually kicks off.
Presenting the hosts and the sponsors of the evening
The hosts and sponsors of the evening are introduced and short presentations given. Some sort of podium is needed that everybody can see and hear what they have to say. While visiting SocFri it was noticeable that after the introductions the hosts and the sponsors of the evening drowned in the crowd. The method of identifying these key players could be done in a manner that makes them step out of the mass more easily.
Theme actitivies can be used so that guests get more relaxed and find it easier to start discussion with each other. For example a detective game can be used.
After activities a notice can be given that the programme is over, wishing the people to migle by themselves freely. According to Ingram & Morris (2007) people mix at "mixing" events such as SocFri, but not as much as they might. Pre-existing relationships and networks affect the mixing process so that people tend to engage with people they've met before the event. It's also argued that in events like this people do encounter and engage with others different from them. It would be important to foster the participants to step out from their comfort zone and actively carry out engaging with new people in order to outstrech their networks, not just to strenghten the existing ties.
2.3 After the event – Reflecting
Näihin voisi kirjoittaa ylipäätään ideoistamme kuinka tapahtumaa voisi kehittää ja kirjallisuutta löytyy ihan tosi hyvin nimenomaan noihin planning, controlling and monitorin ja reflecting. Ei tarvitse olla isot kappaleet kunkin otsikon alle.
Several companies have founded out, that customer satisfaction is related to companys profitability. In addition the positive customer satisfaction has an affect on free word-of-mouth advertising and companys own human capital as well. (Luo & Homburg 2007: 133). Indeed customers are crucial source of information, which can be useful when developing the companies processes, customer satisfaction and gaining positive word-of-mouth marketing especially in a country size of Finland.
Based on this it is suggested that after the meeting it is important to understand how the participants experienced the event. In order to collect feedback a customer satisfaction survey could be used. The link to the survey could be shared to the participants after the meeting via e-mail and in the social media like Facebook. The purpose of the customer satisfaction of the event is to understand the expectations and requirements of the participants and whether those expectations and requirements were filled (Dutka, 1993: vii). According to Wangenheim & Bayón (2007:247) newly acquired customers are specially eager to give word-of-mouth, so they should be encouraged to share these precious feedback also with the company in written form.
In this kind of case the semi-structured questionnaire could be used to collect the feedback. Semi-structured questionnaire includes both predefined answers and open questions. These kinds of questionnaires are commonly used in business-to-business situations. (Hague, 1993: 21-26) The predefined questions are easy and quick to answer. In order to receive more detailed feedback and development proposals few open questions could be used. In addition Net Promoter Scope related question should be used. It is calculated from only one question:How likely are you to recommend the event us to your friends/colleagues? (Hayes, 2008: 103)