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 professionals, we’ve researched and curated a list of some of the best networking event ideas so you can improve your future networking events.
Now, it’s important to understand that connections are not achieved simply by bringing people together in a space. As a host, you have to encourage networking so you can help people build those connections. The networking event ideas we’ll explore today will help you avoid boredom and contribute to the success of your networking event. So, without further ado, let’s dive into these powerful networking ideas!
29 Creative Networking Ideas for Your Next Event
A successful networking event is all about creating special moments that will lead to meaningful connections. Creating opportunities for those moments is essential, and these 29 ideas will help you do exactly that!
1. Wow-Factor Venue
Choosing a venue with a wow factor is an easy way to help attendees spark up conversations among them. So, consider choosing a venue with something unique or impressive about it. For example, skyscrapers, underwater venues, or venues with impressive gardens, art, etc., all provide something to talk about. If the event will take place in your office, then provide the wow factor by bringing in local food or beer, among other things.
2. Food Station
People love food, which is why food stations can engage your attendees and stimulate networking among them when they’re taking a break from sessions. Anyone can bond over something delicious, so consider having cupcake stations, sundae bars, donut walls, or any other kind of food station. Just make sure the food is good!
3. Badge Design
Badges are essential in networking events because they provide essential information about the person wearing them, such as their names and the companies they work for. This is why badge design is so important! You want to make sure the information is visible and easy to read, so make sure the badge design is optimal.
4. Intelligent Match-Making
Intelligent networking takes a seamless, automated approach to networking by recommending connections based on mutual interests. This will help create a structured environment to help businesses promote stronger networking throughout their events and before and after. When an attendee registers for the first time, they should be able to opt-in to receive recommendations for new connections and personalized content. That way, attendees can view profiles and initiate chats with people they want to connect to, either by instant message, video, or audio.
5. Live Entertainment
Live entertainment is an effective way to get your attendees to talk to each other. Whether that’s a live band, a dance performance, a theatrical performance, or even having a famous guest speaker, live entertainment will increase engagement and your attendees will bond over enjoying the experience.
6. 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.
7. Games & 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”. Continue reading this list and you’ll find a few more game ideas that will lighten the mood, provide entertainment, and trigger conversations.
Gamification techniques or features will get your attendees talking, not to mention it’s a fun and easy way to increase engagement. 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.
9. Photo Booths
Having a photo booth in your networking event is a great way to engage attendees and help them have fun. You can customize the photo booth with a branded backdrop and provide props so attendees can take fun pictures they can then post on social media.
10. Social Media Exchange
If you’re hosting an online networking event, you need a fully integrated event management software platform that will allow you to integrate social media accounts and encourage attendees to connect with you, and also stay in touch with each other after the event is over.
11. Networking-Only Area
You should set up a networking-only area at your next event so you can encourage people to come together. You can also provide incentives in this area by offering food and drinks. Create a space where people want to go to and your attendees will flock there!
12. Themed Networking Event
If you want your networking events to have something unique, a theme is a great way to do that. Themed networking events not only make it easy for attendees to spark up a conversation, but they will also create opportunities for a more memorable experience. Plus, it’s a great way to get creative.
13. Speed Networking
Attendees need encouragement to connect and speed networking activities can help. Speed networking is similar to speed dating. All you have to do is set up numbered tables and divide your attendees into groups of 2 or 3 people. They will spend up to 5 minutes in a station and then move on to the next one. After the activity is over, attendees will be able to continue their interactions.
14. Round Table
Another great way to encourage connections is to set up round tables at your networking events. Round tables allow people to openly share ideas, interact freely, and help attendees meet many different people in a short period.
15. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are easily one of the best games out there to help people create connections and have fun. Most people like scavenger hunts and they’re not difficult to set up. You can break people apart in teams and make a contest out of it to see who completes the scavenger hunt first. You can also integrate technology by using QR codes to provide clues. Working as a team is a great bonding experience, so it will encourage meaningful connections.
16. Vision Boards
Building vision boards is also a great way to foster connections and it’s also a lot of fun. Just split attendees into groups and provide supplies so they can let their creativity fly. The vision boards can be focused on what the attendees want to get out of their event or what they want to accomplish in their careers. Once they’re done, you can have a designated space for people to hang their vision boards.
17. Virtual Dinner Party
You can host a virtual dinner party for your networking event so people can take a break from sessions and have something to eat. Even if it’s virtual, a dinner party can foster connections and encourage attendees to talk to one another, so look into it and consider it for your next virtual networking event.
18. Audio-Only Discussions
Audio-only discussions are a great way to increase engagement and it’s also an inexpensive option. People can engage in conversation and share their interests. Create audio rooms at your next virtual networking event so your attendees can connect while also taking a break from video calls.
19. Wellbeing Activities
Incorporating wellbeing activities into a networking event provides attendees with opportunities to connect and feel amazing as well. There are many things you can do. You can offer meditation or yoga sessions, provide healthy food and drink options, go outside, have screen-free zones, and so much more.
20. Trivia Nights
These are a lot of fun and they’re a great opportunity for attendees to socialize and have fun. There’s no pressure on trivia night, so attendees can interact naturally with one another and create significant connections.
21. Social Media
Social media is a powerful networking tool that helps professionals connect with other professionals in their industry. This is why you should encourage attendees to follow each other on social media. It’s possible that some of your attendees already follow each other, so it’s a great opportunity to bond.
22. Host a Twitter Party
You can encourage people to connect via social media in many different ways and hosting a Twitter party is one of them. Create a hashtag for your event and encourage attendees to interact with one another throughout the event.
23. Panel or Forum
If you’re hosting a networking event that features speakers, you can set up panels or forums to encourage people to discuss and share their ideas about the session they attended. This kind of activity is very stimulating and engaging!
24. Mastermind Group
If you want to help people who struggle with networking at events, creating a mastermind group is a great way to do that. A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring group used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members. Creating an environment for such conversations will help attendees share ideas, get feedback, and build significant connections with one another.
25. Competitive Networking
Competitive networking is another fun idea you can implement at your next networking event. One of the biggest challenges of networking events is getting people to branch out and meet people outside of their group. By setting up competitions, you’re providing them with a powerful incentive to branch out. Just consider the type of attendees you’ll have and set up competitions that cater to them.
26. Interactive Salon
An interactive salon was a popular type of gathering among intellectuals and artists in the 18th century. In this kind of gathering, one of the attendees will deliver a short lecture about a topic and then answer questions from everyone else, so it’s a great way to interact over a common interest.
27. Graffiti Wall
Setting up a graffiti wall in your networking event is a fun way to give people a break and activate their creativity. Ask your attendees to draw something or write a word that represents them. This will make it easier for people to break the ice and connect.
28. Secret Question
This is another fun activity that will engage attendees very easily. All you have to do is provide post-its so each person can write a question on the back of it. Then, they will have to stick the post-it on a wall so the question doesn’t show. One by one, each attendee will pick a post-it at random and answer the question out loud. This is a great way to break the ice!
29. Collect Business Cards
This is a very popular competition for networking events that encourages attendees to meet as many people as possible. Ask each attendee to bring a business card and then give them up to 20 minutes for speed networking. They have to go around and meet as many people as possible to collect their business cards. The winner will get a prize and also get new connections in the process.
These are only a few of the best networking ideas to have a more successful networking event, but there are many more ideas you can come up with to foster meaningful connections. So be creative and be sure to give these ideas a chance and your next networking event will reach a whole new level.
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