Design for Deep Connections

The hottest trends in accelerating conference networking are hosted-buyer and speed-networking like 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. The articles and links in this newsletter address the fourth D, Deep Connections.
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 their agenda ahead of yours…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.
August 2017
VCC's Jeff Hurt on how you can foster deep connections at conferences.
We’re living in a time where we’ve never been more connected with others than we are now. Yet most of us feel pretty disconnected from our personal and professional networks. Why?
Because we were not hardwired for digital connection. We are wired for face-to-face connections.
Judith E. Glaser, an author, business executive, and self-described “organizational anthropologist,” says science has now proven that the chemical nature of relationships, conversations and collaboration is more than an attraction metaphor: it’s a reality.

As conference organizers, it is our job to find ways to encourage participation and foster attendee engagement. It’s our job to create experiences that help others connect on more intimate levels.

In  Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect , neuroscientist Matthew D. Lieberman, director of UCLA’s Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab, sets out to “get clear about ‘who we are’ as social creatures and to reveal how a more accurate understanding of our social nature can improve our lives and our society."