conference evaluation and network mapping
Often we attend conferences where one of the stated objectives is “increase/build/create networking” and I always found it odd that there is never any attempt to measure if networking really took place.
A possible solution is to map networks created by participants at conferences – and compare these networks to those that existed before the conferences.
This is exactly what I have done recently in a network mapping study that you can view here (pdf – 1 MB) and the above image is from. From the LIFT conference of 2007, we mapped the networks of 28 participants (out of 450 total participants) before and after the conferences. We found some quite surprising results:
These 28 participants had considerable networks prior to the conference – reaching some 30% of all participants.
These networks increased after the conference -the 28 people were then connected to some 50% of all participants.
Based on the sample of 28 participants, most participants doubled their networks at LIFT07 – e.g. if you went to the conference knowing five people, you would likely meet another five people at the conference – thus doubling your network to ten.
Although this is only a mapping of 28 participants, it provides some insight into conferences and how networks develop – it’s also quite interesting that 28 people can reach 50% (225 people) of the total conference participants in this case.
View the full report here (pdf – 1 MB).
If you are after further information on network mapping, I recommend Rick Davies’ webpage on network mapping. Although it focuses on development projects it contains a lot of useful information on network mapping in general.