I attended a networking event the other evening where the event organizers were using a different format than they had for the past several years. Instead of several hours of free-form networking they had promoted having an industry expert present to the audience , with open networking before and after the presentation.
The good news is that new people attended who were genuinely interested in the topic.
I spoke with someone who was clearly attending for the first time and helped her understand the purpose of the organization and the format of the evening's event.
It occurred to me how valuable it is for event organizers to spot newcomers as they register, then help them feel welcome and understand what's going on so they have a good experience and will attend future events.