Planning a networking event

The Ultimate Guide to Networking Events

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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September 9, 2022

When it comes to working in the professional working world, the connections you have hold a great amount of value. The more people you know, the more opportunities you may have in the future. That’s why networking events are so important- you have the ability to meet people you may not have had the chance to meet before and can make lasting connections. If you’re thinking about hosting a virtual or in-person networking event of your own, look no further! In this guide we’ll go over everything you need to know about hosting a networking event.

What Is A Networking Event? 

A networking event is a space where professionals can come together to mingle and discuss their work. It’s a fun and memorable way to connect with others, and can be done all different ways. At Hubilo, we think there’s so much value in connecting with professionals from anywhere and in any industry. There are a variety of networking event types that we’ll go over as well as some creative networking event ideas

Why Are Networking Events Important? 

Networking events have so many benefits for both the attendees and the hosting company. They offer a chance for professionals to meet other like-minded professionals within their industry or even industries outside of their own. For the hosting company, it gives them a chance to get their name out there; if your event is well-run and a success, people will remember the company who was in charge. 

9 Types of Networking Events

1. Workshops 

Workshops are a great way to meet new professional connections while learning new skills or information. Workshops can be based on a number of topics depending on your industry; they can range from subjects like team building to learning code! This leaves guests with a great chance to socialize by meeting new people while also expanding their skill sets. 

2. Happy Hour Networking Events

With networking events based around a happy hour, guests can leave the pressure of work at work and unwind for a bit! Basing a networking event around something social like a happy hour will allow guests to feel less pressure and have some fun. This is typically done by the hosting company renting out a bar or restaurant space with enough room for attendees to mingle while drinking and eating appetizers.

3. Career Fairs

A great way to get your foot in the door with a particular industry while meeting new professionals is at a career fair! This type of networking event is typically held at a university or college and allows students to talk with employees from different companies. Companies will usually set up booths in the event space where guests (usually students) can approach to discuss any questions they have about the company or to learn more about the industry. This is a great way for graduating students to get their resume out to potential employers as well! 

4. Industry- Specific Conferences/ Seminars 

Attending a conference or seminar is a great way for professionals to network within their industry. Usually during these events, an industry expert will discuss a certain topic that’s specific to an industry. However, there are ample opportunities during these events where guests can network; most will include breaks for guests to get refreshments and mingle in between discussions or presentations. 

5. Trade Shows 

Trade shows are another great way for professionals in an industry to network. Trade shows are typically held in a venue where a number of different businesses can set up booths to promote their business or products. Not only can guests learn about businesses and products, but they can network with the other attendees there as well! 

Trade show networking event

6. Breakfast/ Lunch Meetings

Hosting a networking event where guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch is never a bad idea. This type of networking event is especially beneficial for those who may not have the time after work hours to attend a later event, like a happy hour. These events can be used to talk about a certain project within a team, or the host may invite a guest to come and speak at the event; either way, it’s a wonderful networking opportunity for everyone!    

7. Volunteer Groups

What better way to connect with new people than to give back to your community? There are a variety of volunteer opportunities you could choose as a way to network with others, like volunteering at a soup kitchen, volunteering at an animal shelter, and so much more. 

8. Speed Networking

Speed networking is a great way to network without wasting any time. Typically, guests are given an allotted time to spend with every member at the event, and once that time is up, they move quickly onto the next person! Business cards are highly recommended for this type of event with the little time there is to make a full connection.   

9. Roundtable Discussions

A roundtable discussion is when a group of people gather to talk about a specific topic or issue at hand. It’s a great opportunity to learn new insights from others as well as share your thoughts and opinions with like-minded people. Roundtables are a great way for people to share ideas and gain new perspectives on any kind of topic and any kind of industry!

Conversations for networking events

How To Host A Successful Networking Event  

Hosting a successful networking night is no easy task, but we’ve narrowed down some key details that you should keep in mind during the planning phase. 

  1. Choose Your Format

One of the biggest decisions to make as you start to plan your networking event is what format it will be. You can choose whether you’d like the event to be in-person, hybrid, or fully virtual. Each one presents its own set of benefits and challenges, but it’s important to narrow down which option would be best for your company and attendees. 

  1. Know Your Budget

In addition to deciding what format you’d like your event to be, check to see what your company’s budget is for networking events like these. Knowing your budget will help you plan the rest of your event, including where you’ll hold your event and if you want to include any important guest speakers

  1. Choose the Right Software 

If you decide to hold a fully virtual networking event, the software you chose is extremely important! Be sure to choose one that has extensive capabilities to encourage engagement and participation in the networking process. Programs like Hubilo offer features like live chats, breakout rooms and more

  1. Utilize Past Events

A tool that will help you make your next networking event great is learning from your last event. Using your event evaluation from the last networking event, take into account what and how you should improve for the upcoming event you have planned. 

10 Creative Ideas for Your Next Networking Event 

Having a network event with just tables and chairs won’t cut it anymore- we recommend spicing things up to make your event fun and worthwhile! We’ve provided some fun additions you can bring into your networking event . 

1. Extra Info Name Tag

Having just a name on a name tag doesn’t leave much else for others to gather. Let guests add a personal touch by adding some extra information on their name tags - anything from where they live, to what their pet’s name is and if they have any other fun facts. 

2. Photo Booth

What better way to remember how much fun you had at a networking event than with a photo booth! Including this at your next networking event adds a fun element and gives members something to talk about. Once the photos develop or are uploaded online, members will have something to remember the connections they made forever! 

3. Have A Theme 

Assigning a specific theme to your networking event is a great way to make your event fun! This gives attendees an easy way to start a conversation and will lend to a more creative event overall.

4. Include A Social Media Follow Time

Chances are, most people in the professional world are on some sort of social media. Let attendees have an opportunity to connect with other members they’ve met on social media by allotting a time to following each other on social media. This could be LinkedIn, Facebook- you name it! Social media is a great tool to stay in the loop with different connections you make and will allow members to deepen that connection!

5. Have A Scavenger Hunt 

What better way to get your guests mingling than with an activity to reach a common goal! A treasure hunt is a fun way to utilize team building skills by having everyone on board to accomplish a fun game. You can even incorporate things like taking pictures together, giving different team names, and more!

6. Wellness Activities

Offering wellness activities into your networking event is a great alternative for attendees to take a break and unwind. Offer activities such as meditations, yoga sessions, and even activities outdoors for attendees to unwind. 

7. Trivia 

There's nothing quite like a game of trivia to have guests come together and connect! It’s a fun game that’s completely customizable based on your industry or business. 

8. Host at A Sporting Event

Have your networking event stand out amongst the rest by hosting it at a sporting game! This high energy idea will have guests excited to both see a sports game and make new connections!

9. Include A Live Performance

Having a live performance at your event is a great way to get attendees to engage with one another. Including a live band, a famous guest speaker, or even a dance performance will serve as a great talking point amongst attendees and encourage them to mingle. 

10. Games & Icebreakers

Incorporating games and icebreakers at your networking event is a no brainer - it’ll get everyone involved and add a fun element! There are a number of options to choose from when it comes to games and icebreakers. 

Games to play at a networking event

5 Inspiring Networking Event Examples

There are so many great examples of networking events that really left a mark on the professional world. We’ll go through a few notable ones. 

1. Social Marketing World by Social Media Examiner 

At this annual conference attended by 7,000 people, Social Media Examiner encouraged guests to network beforehand through different social platforms like LinkedIn, Slack and more. They then opened the conference up with a great icebreaker game of bingo to get attendees friendly with one another and ready to socialize. 

2. Consensus by CoinDesk

CoinDesk welcomed attendees to their networking event by having guests connect through a community space of their own. That way, guests could establish some connections ahead of time before the big event day and carry that communication in the community space through mid-event and post-event. 

3. Under 30 Summit By Forbes

In this summit hosted by Forbes, it invited members across all kinds of industries to meet and connect. Forbes drew in a great number of guests by adding in a philanthropic element to their event; one day during their weekend long event, they added a Day of Service where guests could mentor students attending Boston Public Schools. Adding this to their event allowed participants to not only make new connections and gain valuable information, but also give back to their community. 

4. DreamForce by Salesforce

When it comes to putting together a successful networking event, Salesforce knows how to do just that. In their DreamForce event, attendees labeled as “trailblazers” gathered to connect and learn all about salesforce and different ways to learn and improve their skills. They also added a fun element to their well-known event by including a participant-inspired recipe book in relation to their products! Features like these that incorporate both your company and participants will leave nothing but a positive impression on attendees! 

5. BreakAway CEO Summit by Bloomberg

Previously held in person in earlier years, the BreakAway CEO Summit by Bloomberg was a complete virtual success! This one day event allowed CEOs from all over the world to connect and discuss important topics in their industries like recruitment and customer retention.  

Conclusion

Networking is such an important part not only for professional reasons, but also for your personal life. You never know who you may meet through attending one networking event, which is why hosting a networking event should be planned out as efficiently as possible. Even if your event cannot be in-person, there are platforms that can help make virtual networking occasions a bit easier like Hubilo! 

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