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Design for Deep Connections

The hottest trends in accelerating conference networking are hosted-buyer and speed-networking experiences. These highly transactional interactions usually result in temporary feel-good moments. They rarely lead to trusting relationships or true ROI for the participants.

Our team recently developed a framework called the 4D Conference Experience design. The four Ds stand for Deep Learning, Deep Play, Deep Reflection and Deep Connections. The 4D framework helps conference organizers shift from passive consumption and transactions to more authentic and immersive experiences.

Deep connections are a result of transformational conversations. With help from organizational anthropologist and author, Judith Glaser, these can be achieved when both participants:
1. Prime for trust … build rapport before getting into a deeper conversation
2. Listen to connect first, not for opportunity
3. Put the other person’s agenda ahead of their agenda … ask open-ended or tell-me-more type questions
4. Reinforce success and progress

At conferences, existing relationships often grow deeper organically. Serendipitous connections can be achieved by encouraging your presenters/facilitators to inject several opportunities for the participants to have conversations with one or two others. When a couple of people openly discuss how to apply the session’s content to their context, the potential of a deeper connection grows.

Reprinted with permission from Velvet Chainsaw’s Sticky Conference newsletter, with articles this month focused on deep connections.

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