1. Make it easy to find like-minded individuals.
Instead of creating conference tracks by job function, SIG, industry, or specialty, consider a track methodology around significant problems to solve or opportunities to seize. Like-minded is defined by your attendees’ pressing priorities, not necessarily by the demographics that you collect or the committees that you created years ago.
2. Bring networking into the session rooms.
Rather than cramming every concurrent session with end-to-end lectures, panels and Q&A, instruct and coach your presenters to incorporate at least three small-group discussions or networking activities into the session design and set up the room accordingly. Crescent rounds work well for programs that alternate between speaker presentations and table talk. Even if you need to maximize seating at every session, put the networking-friendly seating up front and use the back 25 percent of the room for theater seating.
3. Pay special attention to two groups.
Make igniting connexity the No. 1 priority. Involve as many veterans, staff and volunteer leaders as possible. For those participants who are attending for the first time and/or are the only registrants attending from their organization, develop a plan to reach out to them shortly before the conference to offer assistance with their connexity.