Networking events are all about bringing people together, and helping them bond with each other in a meaningful, memorable way. But how do you encourage networking at your event? How do you help people form meaningful connections with one another? To help meeting and event planners, we’ve researched and curated this guide to the top 11 ideas for your next networking event.
Top 11 Creative Networking Event Ideas
1. Wow-Factor Venue
To help spark conversation amongst attendees choose a venue with a wow-factor. You can host your event in a unique venue like a garden, in a skyscraper, or underwater. If you’re hosting the event at your office, add a neighborhood wow-features like local cuisine, beer from a local brewery, and more.
2. Food Stations
Food stations like donut walls, sundae bars, or cupcake making stations are great ways to stimulate networking amongst your attendees. These yummy food stations will tempt attendees to take a break from sessions and make it easy for people to connect one-on-one.
3. Big Badge Design
Badging is essential for networking events. Badges reveal people’s essential information like their names and the companies they work for. To ensure this information is visible, make sure when you are designing your event badges that attendee’s names are large and bolded and that their company information or titles are also visible.
4. Live Entertainment
Incorporating live entertainment into your next networking event can be a great way to get people talking. Have a live band, theatrical performance, or famous guest speaker come and engage with your attendees. Your guests will bond with each other over experiencing something interesting together and also have something to talk about.
5. Mobile Event App
If you’re using a mobile event app for your event, then you’re in luck because mobile apps are an easy way to provide networking opportunities for your attendees throughout all stages of your event. Before your event, attendees can use the chatting feature to network with other attendees and schedule meetings with them. During your event sessions, attendees can use the mobile event app to engage with speakers by answering polls, and after the event, they can use the app to rate their favorite sessions and provide other feedback.
6. Games and Icebreakers
To help attendees get to know each other, incorporate some games and ice breakers into your next networking event. You can break attendees up into smaller groups and send them on a photo scavenger hunt or you have them play desert island, where they will be asked questions like “If you could only bring one item with you on a desert island, what would it be and why”. These games will trigger conversations and lighten the mood.
Add gamification techniques or features to your networking event to get people talking. You can run gamification photo contests through social media, networking contests through your mobile event app, or a point scavenger hunt game to increase session and booth traffic. Gamification is a fun and easy way to engage and connect better with your attendees.
8. Photo Booths
Encourage attendees to snap photos together at your next networking event by stationing photo booths. You can create a unique, branded backdrop, add props, and link your photo booth to social media, so attendees can simply tap and upload their photos to their social accounts.
9. Social Media Exchange
Using your fully integrated event management software platform, integrate your social media accounts to your event website and encourage attendees to connect with you and each other. This way, you and your attendees can stay connected with each other after the event is over.
10. Create a Networking-Only Area
At your next networking event, dedicate an area to “networking only”. You can entice attendees to visit the “networking only” area by adding high tops and a bar that hands out free drinks to networking attendees. Creating a “networking only” area at your next event creates a safe space where attendees can share their experiences and bond with others in a meaningful way.
11. Themed Event
Looking to spice up your networking events? Then why not host a themed event? Themed events not only get people talking, but also help them feel like they are part of something larger. Some ideas for themed events could be a networking carnival, featuring food, games, and prizes, or a speed dating networking event where attendees are matched (using the mobile event app matchmaking feature) and make “speed connections” with other attendees.