Networking events are the best way to unite people and improve personal and professional relationships! A study by EventMB found that 74% of event attendees say networking is the primary reason they attend events. The same study also found that 63% of event planners consider networking one of their events' top goals.
Depending on the event, it may be challenging to encourage marketing among your guests. While it's great to have a small cocktail party for your guests, there may be other ideas that you can use to encourage networking. Whichever way you choose to host a networking event, you can be sure that your guests will meet new people and develop those connections which can last a lifetime!
1. Food Stations
Food is one of the best ways to get people to bond together! They can come together to discuss the food that is being served. You can create conversations between your guests by choosing out-of-the-box food stations like a donut wall, an ice cream bar, or make your açai bowls. The conversation could begin with discussing the food being served and can turn into a discussion about work and any business opportunities.
2. Badge Station
Badges are essential for everyone to wear, as they help other guests know their names and occupations immediately! Guests can sit at a table with others while they design their custom name badges. Be sure to include important information on the badges, especially their name! Don't forget to make your name, occupation, and company name clear and visible for everyone to read.
3. Intelligent Match-Making
Intelligent networking takes the guesswork out of guests at your event talking to each other! When guests register for the first time for the match-making, they will receive recommendations for who to network with for the first time. Guests can enter their personal information and, based on it, can be paired with others with the same interests.
4. Live Entertainment
Live entertainment during your events is a fun way for your guests to network and interact with each other! The live entertainment can be a live band, a comedian, or a dance performance- anything that will get your guests talking! After the entertainment, the guests can talk about how they liked it. These conversations can roll into conversations about work and any business opportunities that may arise. Once the entertainment and the event are over, you can connect with the people you met, using the live entertainment as a conversation starter!
5. Mobile Event App
Using a mobile app for your event is one of the best ways to get your guests to network with one another! Your event app is the home for everything associated with the event, such as your tickets, a timeline of events, and even a spot for networking. Before, during, and after the event, guests can use the app to interact with other guests. The app can schedule meetings, meet-ups, and live chats between guests. Once the event is over, guests can continue the conversations you have created during the event!
Read and Learn: What our Survey Data Revealed About What Attracts the Most People to Events
6. Games And Icebreakers
Icebreakers are the best way to, quite literally, break the ice between the event guests! Guests can share their name, occupation, company name, and any facts they want the rest of the group to know. If you break up your guests into smaller groups, you can ask questions like "What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?" and guests can answer to the best of their ability. Games and icebreakers can break up the tension and anxiety of meeting new people, allowing everyone to relax as they get to know one another!
Increase your attendee engagement by using gamification! Gamification can be done through your event app, bringing your guests closer together. There are games where your guests can work together to solve puzzles and win prizes. You can share your gamification on your personal social media channels, which will help to increase traffic and interest in your event!
8. Photo Booths
Photo booths are an excellent way for your guests to engage with one another while having fun! Not only will your guests engage with one another, but they will also have a souvenir to remember the event. The photo booth can come with props and costumes, which can unveil the silly side of your guests. You can take pictures with one other person or try to fit as many people into the photo booth as possible. The pictures you take away from the event will remind you of the event and may also serve as a reminder of all the people you met!
9. Social Media Exchange
There may be several people you meet at events, and it may be challenging to track them all. While at your event, connect with others on social media! The social media platforms you can connect on can be Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. You will be able to stay in touch with everyone you meet long after the event is over. When they connect with others on social media, guests can celebrate the wins of their personal and professional lives!
10. Networking-Only Area
At your event, set up an event space for networking only to encourage everyone to come together and meet new people. Guests will see that others are within the space and will be likelier to walk up to them and initiate a conversation. Using incentives like food and drink will invite guests to the area to meet new people and connect.
11. Themed Networking Event
A theme for any event helps tie the event together! It allows your guests to enjoy and relax while participating in the event theme. Themes can include a luau, a sports theme, or even a 1970s disco theme! Guests can attend in their best attire, which will spark conversations between guests. If you want the participation for the themed event to be high, announce a contest for the most spirited to have your guests pulling out all the stops to win the prize.
12. Speed Networking
Speed networking has the potential for guests to meet as many other guests as possible! Event hosts can set up tables and chairs while guests take a spot at the tables. With a timer and a bell, guests can move around the room, meeting as many guests as possible. Set a timer for 5 minutes, as this is the perfect amount of time for guests to share their name, occupation, and any other information they want to share. Be sure to connect on social media or LinkedIn, as you can connect once the event is over!
13. Round Tables
Round tables are where guests can physically sit at a round table while they meet their peers. Guests can share ideas and thoughts while also meeting new people! It allows guests to meet one another face-to-face instead of sitting behind a computer screen.
14. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are a great way to get everyone up and moving while working together to find the items on the list! Guests can split into teams and even use a QR code to obtain the list of items. Guests can take a photo of the items they found or collect them, depending on what they are. When guests work together, they can create connections that will last long after the scavenger hunt is over!
15. Vision Boards
Creating a vision board is a fun way to let your guests get creative with what they see in their future! The vision boards can be what the guests hope to gain from the event or what they hope to achieve within their professional careers. Split your guests into smaller groups so everyone can speak about what they are creating on their vision board. Once everyone has created their vision board, hang them up in a specific area so that everyone can view them!
16. Virtual Dinner Party
Sometimes, networking events must be done virtually, but your guests can still network! Hosting a virtual dinner party lets your guests cook their favorite meals while chatting with their peers. Guests can talk to others about what they make for dinner and gain new ideas! Once everyone is done cooking, they can share a meal while discussing any subject.
17. Audio-Only Discussions
Audio rooms help guests network with one another, as they can talk about their favorite interests or subjects! Audio-only rooms are inexpensive to plan, and some guests won't feel the pressure to turn on their cameras and be face-to-face with others. You will still connect with others while taking a break from face-to-face interaction.
18. Wellbeing Activities
Events can take a toll on your guests, especially if they are all-day events. By scheduling well-being activities, your guests can take a break from all the action and relax. Your guests can relax while networking with others by offering yoga or meditation sessions, healthy snacks and drinks, and even massages. Guests can chat about what they enjoyed about the well-being activities and what they would like to see at future events.
19. Trivia Nights
are both fun and competitive for the guests! Guests can split up into teams and even create a unique team name. From there, they can answer all questions, including sports, music, and TV. For every question they answer correctly, they get the point, and whichever team has the most points at the end wins the game! Guests can connect and work together to answer the questions while being able to relax and be themselves.
20. Social Media
Almost everybody has at least one form of social media nowadays. Hence, it's the best way to connect with your guests! Encourage everyone to share posts with your event hashtag on their favorite social media platform and elevate your networking experience by aggregating and displaying your attendees' posts on a social wall. This way, you'll create a vibrant and engaging environment that fosters a sense of community, encouraging participants to connect with one another and sparking meaningful conversations around shared experiences and interests.
21. Host A Tik Tok Party
Tik Tok has wholly taken over social media, and it is prevalent for companies to have their own Tik Tok account! Companies can have their guests do a Tik Tok dance at the event and post the video to the popular social media platform. From there, guests can Share the video on their social media, creating a buzz around the company and the event itself.
22. Rent A Unique Venue
Depending on your event, you may want to rent a unique venue! The unique venue can create a buzz among your guests, which is the beginning of the networking phase. Research venues with a gorgeous rooftop view, a venue with fun spot to take pictures, or a venue with a kitchen where a food networking event could take place! Remember that you may have a more significant or a smaller audience attending, so try to choose a venue to support everyone attending your networking event.
23. Make Room For Introverts
There may be people attending your event that are less social than the others. If this is the case, cater to their needs! Be sure to provide smaller rooms for introverts if they wish to network with people without being surrounded by dozens of other people. During these events, people sometimes need a moment to regroup and recharge their social batteries. Creating these rooms for people to network in a more quiet setting, shows your guests you care about them and their wellbeing.
24. Host A Twitter Party
Companies can use their networking event as a way to showcase their company on Twitter! You can create a hashtag for your event, and encourage your guests to use this hashtag. When guests search through the hashtag, they can become connected with other guests of the event! Feel free to share any pictures or videos on Twitter, so everybody attending the party can view them and connect.
25. Start A Mastermind Group
There may be some people who struggle to network at your events, and that’s okay! By creating a mastermind group, you can have peers mentor other peers and help them solve any problems they may have. You can begin to connect with others as well as have conversations about the event, meeting new people or just networking in general.
26. Host A Panel Or Forum
Events with a panel are a successful way to network, as it gives the guests a chance to ask questions and interact with others! Panel discussions have the opportunity for everyone to engage in a large group discussion. There may be guests who chat with other guests, within the discussion, who may never have talked to each other for the entirety of the event.
27. Plan An Interactive Salon
Salons, within the corporate world, aren’t a space where you give each other a haircut and a shampooing. Salons refer back to an 18th century panel type gathering where your guests can deliver a speech and then answer questions from the audience! You can choose to host this type of networking event in a cool and comfortable atmosphere, with couches and oversized chairs, so everybody can be comfortable!
28. Throw A Silent Disco
Silent discos are usually an event where people put on their headphones, listen to music and dance! However, this can be turned into a networking event by taking off your headphones! Guests can still dance along to the music while meeting people out on the dance floor. Be sure to keep the music kept at a low volume so guests won’t have to strain their voice by talking over the music!
29. Host A BBQ Or Pool Party
Everybody loves a pool party! If you or one of the event organizers has a pool, invite everybody over for a day of fun in the sun. Encourage everyone to bring their swimsuits and appetites as they network around the pool. As your guests are mingling with one another, take pictures and videos that can be used as marketing for next year’s event.
30. Offer A Photo Session
By offering a photo session, your guests can have the opportunity to all have a professional headshot. Hire a professional photographer to take headshots of everybody, and these pictures can be used on their LinkedIn page or on their email signature. If you want to be more casual with the photos, the photographer can take candid photos of the event and the photos can be used as marketing!
31. Competitive Networking
At the beginning of the event, express to your guests that there is a contest for who can network with the most people! This will encourage your guests to try and meet as many people as possible! Your guests will need to prove how many people they met by making a list of everyone they met, and whoever has the longest list of names wins the contests! This makes the networking between the guests fun and a little competitive!
32. Graffiti Wall
Your guests can have a fun time while letting their creative side shine through! An interactive wall that your guests can draw on will open up the conversation with your guests. Encourage your guests to write a word or phrase that represents them, and see if more than one guest writes down the same word. If this is the case, find the people who wrote the same words and encourage them to meet each other.
33. Secret Question
One icebreaker game that typically isn’t played is secret question! You can provide each guest with a Post It and tell them to write a question on it. Then, once all the questions have been collected, event organizers can read the question out loud and everyone can have a chance to answer the question. The questions asked by the guests are limitless, and it gives everybody a chance to get to know each other better.
34. Collect Business Cards
A report by Forbes stated that networking is one of the most important skills you can develop in business, as it can help you gain new insights, new clients, and new opportunities. Much like competitive networking, you can turn this into a game! Encourage each guest to bring business cards to the event to be used for a game. When the networking time begins, encourage guests to get a business card from everybody they talk to. Once the networking time is over, have everybody count their business cards from other people. Whoever has the most business cards from other people is the winner!
35. Invite A Guest Speaker
Guest speakers are a great way to get your guests talking! The guest speaker can come in and speak about a variety of topics, all relating to your event. Once the guest speaker is done, the guests can talk to one another about what the guest speaker had to say. Once they connect after the event is over, they can refer back to the guest speaker and be reminded of the event.
36. Virtual Happy Hour
Virtual happy hours became wildly popular during the pandemic! People from all types of companies would gather after work hours and have a drink together. You can still do this while encouraging your guests to network. Attendees can learn a bit more about the personal and professional lives of one another, and they can get a better understanding of who their peers are outside of the workplace!
37. Webinars Or Workshops
Webinars help employees learn a new skill or have a discussion with the host of the webinar! By using this as your networking event, your guests can talk to each other about the skills they learned during the webinar! Workshops can also have your guests learning something new that they can put on their resumé. Once the workshop or webinar is over, guests can have something to refer to as they head back into the workplace.
38. Wine, Beer Or Food Tasting
Tastings of all kinds are a great way to gather everyone and network together over food and drink. You can hire a catering company to come in and provide a few different types of food and drink, making sure that there is something for everyone! Keep in mind that not everybody attending your event drinks alcohol, so be sure to have non-alcoholic beverages. Another thing to keep in mind is any food allergies that your guests may have and be accommodating of that.
39. Professional Conferences Or Work Summit
Conferences are gatherings of hundreds of people, which is a great way to network with all kinds of people! By attending these conferences, you can meet people who can help your professional career. Keep in mind that you will most likely not be able to meet every single person at the conference or work summit, but you should try to meet as many as you can- you never know who you might meet and what connections they have for you or vice versa.
40. Coffee Hours
Most everybody likes coffee, and most of us drink coffee throughout the day! Coffee hours are relaxed and laid back and guests can drink their favorite coffee while chatting with their colleagues. Be sure to connect on social media with the people you meet at the coffee hour, and you may be able to have coffee together outside of the workplace!
FAQs about networking events
A survey by Statista found that 82% of respondents believed that networking events were a great way to meet new people in their industry. Networking events can be fun and productive if you approach them with the right mindset and preparation. By incorporating some of the 40 ideas we have shared in this blog, you can make your future networking events more engaging, memorable, and impactful. From gamifying your event to creating interactive experiences, there are many ways to stand out and make connections that can benefit your personal and professional life.
If you're looking for a platform that can help you host engaging and interactive networking events, Hubilo is worth considering. With features like virtual lounges, matchmaking, and live polls, Hubilo can help you create an immersive event experience that your attendees will love.
To learn more about Hubilo and how it can enhance your networking events, we encourage you to request a demo today. With the right tools and strategies, you can take your networking game to the next level and build meaningful connections that last a lifetime.
Networking events are the best way to encourage attendees to meet new people and make lasting connections. Learn how to host a networking event with our guide.
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