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UK execs disinterested in networking at events but keen on food and drink offerings

Many UK executives are disinclined to network at events, feeling pressure to attend or even communicate with others in the industry, according to a survey.

The research by Cvent, which was based on the input from over 2,000 executives across the country, uncovered areas of opportunity within the £18.1 billion conference and meetings sector in the UK.

“Our research reveals that while employees are aware of the overarching expectation to either generate new leads or make valuable professional connections, there is a disconnect between these expectations and the ability to actually execute on them,” Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer at Cvent said.

UK executives were asked their views before attending a business networking event. Only one third of respondents said that they were “looking forward to the networking opportunities.” They were also interested in how networking events can be improved to maximise attendee engagement and professional impact.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) said they often felt disinterested in networking and used the time to make business calls or review work emails on their mobile devices. Around 20 per cent were interested primarily in the food and drink offerings and not the networking. Of those interviewed, 16 per cent felt added stress to attend and engage with their industry peers.

The research, conducted in partnership with independent research agency Atomik, was based on the input of more than 2,000 executives across the country, and specifically highlighted the opportunity that exists for enhancing networking events across all industry sectors.

Despite these findings, two thirds of business executives in the UK believe their manager would expect them to return with a business lead or convert an existing opportunity as a result of their time spent networking at the event.

“Business owners across the country invest incredible amounts of time and money for their employees to attend business networking events. Networking plays a vital role in growing a business – nothing is better than meeting face-to-face to get business done,” Smith continued.

“Overcoming these obstacles requires the active participation from both event organisers who are planning these events and business owners who are sending their employees.”

Smith added: “Event planners need to be prepared to think about engaging attendees prior, during and even after the event so the connections made onsite can be cultivated into long term business relationships.

“Our survey results illustrate that there is a desire for this kind of offering and it can be facilitated through the use of mobile event apps and other digital platforms. In addition, event organisers should be prepared to consider how they could change a potentially tired format, so attendees feel enthused and inspired to connect with other attendees.”