Event Design

The Matchmaking Trick That Improves Attendee Networking

How do you create meaningful interactions — authentic and low-key — between sponsors and attendees?


Every year, Sam Lippman, president and founder of Lippman Connects, produces the Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF) as well as nine Attendee Acquisition Roundtable (AAR) and Exhibit Sales Roundtable (ESR) events. At each program, he uses “facilitated networking” to bring together sponsors and attendees.

Two weeks prior to ECEF, Lippman asks sponsors to email him three attendees they’d like to sit with during lunch (pictured above), in order of preference. Lippman then creates tables where he tries to sit sponsors with their first choice; 85 percent get their first choice. For the smaller, more intimate AAR and ESR programs, Lippman asks sponsors which attendees they’d like to sit with during the morning and afternoon sessions (attendees are assigned different seats for the two sessions), and seats them accordingly.

“My goal with all of my sponsors is to exceed their expectations and ensure they receive maximum return on their investment from my events,” Lippman said. “The best way I know of achieving these objectives is to give my sponsors the tools, time, and uninterrupted opportunity to have meaningful connections with their clients and prospects at my events.” 

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.