3 Tips to Make First Time Attendees Feel Welcome

Remember the first time you went to an annual event or large conference. A little nerve-racking, wasn’t it? That’s probably how your first time attendees are going to feel. A little lost, a little confused, a little nervous, a little anxious and obviously a whole lot excited. Here are a few tips to keep these awesome people calm and happy.

Have a welcome session. The night before a weekend conference, or the first 30-60 minutes of an event, you could have a meet-up with the newcomers explaining the goals of the event, reassuring them about any concerns, and pushing them to talk to one another. You can explain a little bit about networking and how to really maximize the number of contacts you make. Having a small group and talking to them directly will help them feel more comfortable and content.

Give first time attendees a “newbie nametag.” When someone is a first time attendee, it’s normal for them to be shy during networking sessions and be nervous to start up a conversation. Having them wear a different name tag (maybe a nametag of a different color, or that has a special “first time attendee” ribbon on it) will encourage other veteran guests to talk to them and make them feel more comfortable.

Have a welcome booth. I think you could either do a welcome session or a welcome booth. At most conferences, there is a general welcome booth where you sign in, and get your name tag, schedule for the day/weekend/week, and any other tools normally handed out before the event. A newcomer welcome booth could have all of that, plus an extra bag of goodies comprised of important conference essentials: the “newbie nametag,” a notebook and pen (even if not supplied to everyone else), a pamphlet about the company, literature on networking, and anything else you can think of.

Be creative and help your first time attendees as much as you can. After all, they are an important part of your conference!

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