The Green Room

I have been a professional in the events industry for 15 years. AMA about making meaningful connections

I am a passionate mental health advocate and events professional and have a passion for improving the lives of others and creating memorable experiences. I have experience managing events in the commercial and not for profit sectors from various sectors including sporting, aerospace and music industries specialising in B2B conferences. I currently freelance for several companies providing event consultancy, project management and tech support. Mental health is an incredibly important topic to me and I seek to educate my peers on looking after their mental health to create a good work / life balance.

We are so excited to have you host today’s AMA session Anika!
To kick things off, here is a question from me:

Can you tell us a bit more about your background and experience in the industry?

Thank you for having me!
My background is mostly in B2B conferences but I have had a varied career so far working both in house and in agency environments. Its hard to condense into one answer but my varied experience has enabled me to have a rounded view of the events industry and I have been lucky enough to work in some amazing companies and have managed events across the world. I fell in love with events whilst studying at university and haven’t looked back! Most recently during the pandemic I have specialised in virtual events and am now moving into hybrid events.

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That sounds amazing! I bet there are never the same two days working in an industry that can vary so much. Would you say the pandemic has changed the way events work and if so how? Just how important is it for event professionals to network and make connections? Is it harder to do so during virtual events?

Absolutely! Event professionals have had to upskill quickly to understand our virtual environment. I have actually written an article about this in April’s conference news. I think technology is playing a much bigger part in events now than pre pandemic. I also think the Why of events is even more important. With in person coming back, they need to have a strong value proposition for delegates to travel to meet face to face. I It has also encouraged flexible working so events professionals can deliver events from the comfort of their own homes. Its an exciting phase in our industry and I can’t wait to see where it will go next.

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Hi Anika, great to hear your experiences. I am quite new to event management and have noticed clients are now returning to in-person events. What are some of the ways we can support our clients to deliver more sustainable events?

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It is incredibly important to make connections, whether that be with others in the same phase in their career as you, someone senior to you or someone in a different sector of events. There is no one ‘true path’ in our careers and its important to ask those questions to others around you to see how they got to where they are to inspire you. Many of us have amazing stories of why we do our jobs and that can further create community and connection.

During the pandemic, its felt even more isolating with working from home away from peers. As scary as it is networking online, I personally feel its easier. Being at home breaks down that barrier of home and work life and we feel more at ease in an environment we are are familiar with. Conversations can start simply by asking about an item in their background and can help jump off from there.

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Start the conversation. Sounds simple but incredibly effective. Ask about what they already have in place and ask if its already in their radar. We all know sustainability is in the spotlight due to COP26 so just having a discussion helps. If you are able to, speak to the venue too about what policies they have in place or if not, what is currently in their roadmap.

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Great thank you! Two good starting points to get the discussion going. I guess post-pandemic we are all still learning how we can design and deliver events with sustainability in mind.

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I couldn’t agree more! Connecting online can remove some of the awkwardness of approaching others in person and help you reach out in circumstances where you usually wouldn’t. What do you think some of the mistakes/struggles that people have when networking?

Being too scared. I completely understand its daunting talking to strangers in a crowded room or a zoom call but we are all human. Start by asking how their day has been, or why they decided to come. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to networking, its more likely there is someone else just as nervous as you in the room. Take a deep breath and smile and don’t pressure yourself. Be honest too. Its okay to say you are nervous and if its easier talk about the weather or how your day has been first. As humans we all love community and connection so it really isn’t as scary as it sounds.

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Thank you so much Anika for hosting today’s session!

My questions is what advice would you give to those new to the industry, such as graduates who may not have the contacts and network yet so they can start building their network list and make connections?

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I agree. We tend to forget there are people out there that are feeling just as nervous if not more and the best thing to do is to try and get over the initial hesitation and just say hi!

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Sign up to publications such as Event Industry News, Conference News and C&IT. It gives an insight into what is happening right now. Follow them on LinkedIn and if you want, create an instagram and twitter dedicated to events. Start following companies that interest you and engage with them. There are also some fab organisations for those starting off in events such as Event Grads and Event Future Leaders. By going to the events run by them you can network with peers and just get used to networking without the pressure. Dedicate just 30 minutes a week looking at companies that look interesting and maybe connect with people that work there to see what they post.

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One more thing to add is go to webinars around the industry and connect with others you see on the attendee list. Send them a linkedin invitation. There is already common ground as you went to the same webinar together and it helps to start to create a network.

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And that’s a wrap folks! Thank you very much @anika for joining us this afternoon to talk about networking. I have learned a lot and I will definitely use your advice at my next networking events.

If you have any more questions for Anika, do reach out to her on LinkedIn or via email at anikav@spotify.com.

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