Ready to network in the new normal?

Networking is making a comeback under new "qualitative" formats, incorporating wellness, technology, and sustainability, says CWT's Ian Cummings.

Learning new skills and engaging in activities for the greater good of the local environment make up new networking activities for corporate retreats.
Learning new skills and engaging in activities for the greater good of the local environment make up new networking activities for corporate retreats. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Pict Rider

As the office environment has massively shifted in favour of more flexible and work-from-home approaches, companies are refocusing on networking now more than ever.

Networking events can ensure teams and new employees become aligned, connected and really understand their company’s culture, and feel a sense of belonging. Corporates are looking at new ways of connecting teams, thinking outside of the box, providing new services for wellbeing and making office locations more attractive to ensure employees can (re-)connect with their colleagues in a successful way.

Corporate retreats are making a comeback. After two years of restrictions around gatherings, the demand for external networking events has never been stronger, particularly corporate retreats with an emphasis on wellbeing.

“We only need to look into the forward bookings for retreat-type facilities to understand that the pent-up demand is real and will continue long into the rest of the year and 2023,” says Ian Cummings, Global Head, CWT Meetings & Events. “It is all about learning new skills together, engaging in activities that contribute to a better environment or society, supporting local businesses and even making music together - these are all part of new networking activities.”

Ian Cummings, global head for CWT Meetings & Events, says the pent-up demand for corporate retreats will continue all the way until 2023.
Ian Cummings, global head for CWT Meetings & Events, says the pent-up demand for corporate retreats will continue all the way until 2023.

Factor in the great outdoors and technology. People might still be wary of networking at events within enclosed spaces or areas that can become all too crowded so think of ways to counter this.

Cvent recently held a rooftop networking event at IMEX 2022 in Frankfurt, while networking that took place indoors had a nature-inspired look and feel.

If outdoors is not an option, consider using technology to offer a more ‘curated’ networking experience. Technology solutions can help people link up with others who have similar interests, which you can use pre- or during the event, so those who want to network can do so without having to spend too much time mingling.

‘Qualitative’ networking elements are on the rise. People no longer want to sit through three days of senior leadership powerpoint presentations.

"They want to spend their time learning and growing in a meaningful way supported by the company and its culture,” says CWT’s Cummings. “Budgets are being divided up differently and companies are certainly willing to invest more in elements such as sustainable activities related to the environment. Delegates expect sustainable elements to be incorporated in meetings, on top of the more usual business elements.”



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