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You’re at a large conference, hoping to make some real business connections. You enter the cocktail party, a room filled with drab business attire, name tags, and endless chitchat about god knows what. How do you know who is worth talking to? If you’re me, you wait by a wall, drink in hand, hope someone walks up and starts the conversation. If they happen to align with what I’m doing, thank god. If not, there goes another five minutes of my life.

Israel-based Bizzabo has another solution. The company makes an app for large-scale conferences, making it easier for attendees and organizers to connect. The company just released the latest version of its iPhone app, claiming to have enhanced its engagement features for users, as well as offering new options for conference organizers.

Bizzabo is an app designed primarily for business conferences. For its users, it posts updates about the event, lists the schedule, connects attendees either inside the app or through other social means, and links to their LinkedIn profiles. In addition, the app utilizes an algorithm that recommends to users others they may wish to connect with.

In essence: Bizzabo is a way to streamline networking at conferences, without having to download a new app for every new event you go to, or have your LinkedIn and Twitter constantly updating by your side.

The company’s co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Alon Alroy views Bizzabo as “an app for all events.” So often people have to download one-time schedules to just throw them out afterward. Instead, the founders at Bizzabo decided to match that facet of conference planning with the social aspects of LinkedIn.

The Bizzabo team has been working on its 2.0 app for quite some time. It’s now been officially released, and it has some useful new features. These include new and improved event discovery, and event search by popularity, location, or date.

Additionally, it also added incentives for organizers who use the premium package. (For regular users, it’s a freemium model.) Now organizers can highlight sponsors and exhibitors to make it easier to bring in sponsorship revenue. Attendees can connect with sponsors, as well, be it through their own social channels like LinkedIn or directly through the app.

The event app market is not a barren one. Most obviously there’s Eventbrite, aimed at making mobile ticketing easier for large events. But that’s not Bizzabo’s aim; it focuses more on the social aspect and those attending.

There are others apps similar to Bizzabo, as well, such as Oleapark and Shpare. These essentially do the same thing in terms of matching attendees based on social affiliations  What gives Bizzabo a leg-up, however, is its options for event organizers and their sponsors. Connecting attendees to other attendees is very helpful (perhaps necessary for non Type As), but providing them with avenues to connect with either the organizers or the sponsors does set Bizzabo apart.

The app is beginning to gain some real traction, as well. Alroy told me that over 2,000 conferences have already used it as their primary app. These include big names like Marketo Summit, Next Berlin, TiECon, and CE Week.

The company hopes this new version will propel it toward becoming the No. 1 event app. Its features do aim to solve some real pitfalls conference attendees face, so I can see it gaining more popularity.

I am not one who enjoys networking, mostly because I’m not good at the cold open of “Hey, how are you? Who are you?” But I do see the merits with Bizzabo, which will help me know I’m connecting with the right folks. If I know someone could actually help me down the line, and not just provide me with meaningless chitchat about the weather, I’d probably be more inclined to start the conversation.

[Image courtesy 24oranges.nl]