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Networking of the Future

Efficiency and algorithm versus people’s business – who will win the game? We interviewed Franziska Divis, co-founder of the all-female startup QuisEs, which focuses on more efficient networking at live events

How did the idea for the project come about?

Me and my co-founder Claudia Nagel had visited way too many networking events and were often  disappointed by not being able to find people who we were really interested in talking to. We’ve been thinking about how to solve this, and so it finally came down to the idea of creating a networking booklet in order to be prepared.

How does the networking booklet work?

First: it is fully digitalized. You have the choice as a creator of the booklet to print it, or you can use it in digital format (PDF). The booklet actually shows people’s pictures next to their name, profession, and whatever else people chose to add about who they are. The handling is very easy – the owner of the event creates the booklet template on the QuisEs Website, then sends the participation URL to the attendees. They import their data with LinkedIn or Xing and the complete booklet can then be printed or downloaded as a PDF version. So an automated end-to-end process exists that enables a perfect networking experience.

Can you give an example?

For larger events that host between 20 and 100 people, our networking booklet is the perfect match for people to find each other. For example, last year there was a MICE workshop where 80 people spent an evening in the Parkcafé in Munich where the networking booklet was used. Attendees were positively surprised by finally being able to find who they were looking to do their business with and also thankful for a long-lasting memory even after the event.

You chose “Networking 2020” as a tagline, what is your vision of the future?

This decade has shown the rise of the importance of networking, especially for females who have been (unfortunately) lagging behind in that skill and competence. The good news is that there are so many initiatives and options out there to learn “how to network”, that nobody could say that he or she lacks the opportunity. Tijen Onarans new book Die Netzwerkbibel is the latest occasion to learn the how to and get answers to questions people have not dared to ask so far. For me, the future of networking needs more innovative ways to be appealing to individual needs of people. And here I do not refer to the full digitalization of networking, that would not work as networking business is people’s business. It would take some sort of quality seal for these so called “networking events” to understand which of those events actually have the objective for people to network and grow their opportunities to match-make. Until that exists, there is an inflationary usage of the word “networking” which can basically not be left off any agenda during a business event these days.

What has been your experience attending various networking events?

In my opinion, there are way too many networking events out there, and networking is hard, even for females that are not shy to actively seek new contacts. There are usually two categories that exist: the kind of networking events where everyone knows everyone and for a stranger/newbie it is almost mission impossible to break up those little rounds of laughter and fun, and then those events where people stand around in pairs, looking around and nothing happens. GDW After Work events are a good example of how efficient networking could work. Also the interactive “LeadingWomen Network” video talks are an efficient way to network.

Do you believe that the way we successfully network has changed over the past ten years?

A clear “yes.” However, in the end, networking is still (and will be) people business over some smart algorithm that will take over. Networking has become more complex and for those that play the game successfully, it has its new attractions. But for those that were shy to begin with, or those that have a hard time getting in contact with people, the complexity of the unwritten rules of networking can be cumbersome. These days you not only have to worry about how to get in contact with others, but you have to activate and manage your contacts, or else these freshly established contacts will not be of any use for you. Activation and management can be utilized in the various social media channels. If you are not an active user of the top 3-5 social networks, you are missing out. And it’s not only about collecting contacts, it’s about being active, posting and liking on social media.

Some final thoughts regarding the future of networking?

It will take new tools to help with innovative ways of how to meet at networking events. For sure, females will come up with more creative ideas to make a networking event worth their while and an even more beneficial experience for attendees. The sky’s the limit to come up with ideas to change the way we are networking today – with a creative spin that nobody has yet thought of. Happy and proud to be a part of the century to experience it!

 

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