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8 Proven Ideas For Networking Events

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There are tremendous advantages to meaningful networking. It connects people and businesses, paving the way for successful collaborations and innovations. But not every networking event is a successful one. Hosting an engaging event requires understanding your potential attendees, and using creative networking event ideas to plan and execute the entire event.

If you’re not careful, these events can devolve into dull, one-way seminars, with most of the attendees zoning out and staring into their phones. If there’s a lack of prompts to help people mingle with each other, then the attendees may end up staying within their own social bubble, interacting with people they already know.

As a result, no real ‘networking’ may even end up happening.

For such events to be successful, event planners have to find creative ways to make them as engaging, interesting, and fruitful as possible.

networking event

To help you do just that, we’ve put together 8 proven networking event ideas that have successfully brought together attendees and facilitated purposeful conversations. These time-tested techniques will inject life into your event, and help connect your attendees with each other to help them get the most out of the experience. So let’s take a look at what these networking event ideas are:

Our 8 Proven Networking Event Ideas Are:

  • ‘Speed Networking’ Events
  • Interactive Games & Icebreakers
  • Virtual Networking Events
  • Targeted Connections
  • Coffee or Cocktail Mixers - With a Twist
  • Roundtables
  • ‘Smart Badges’ To Better Match Attendees
  • Gamification to Engage Attention


1. ‘Speed Networking’ Events

Speed networking is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing types of networking events around, and for good reason. It’s quick, it’s easy and it helps even the shiest of attendees interact with others. It does this by taking the concept of ‘speed dating’, and applies it to the events world, with great results.

The entire event is divided into a set number of rounds of 5-10 minutes each, where each attendee is paired with another to introduce themselves, converse, and exchange ideas. After a round finishes, the attendee is paired up with another person. What this does is act as a great ice breaker, giving you enough time to interact with everyone, and expand your professional network. This way, you can better network with them after the event wraps up.

2. Interactive Games & Icebreakers

Hosting a professional networking event doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. For many people, attending a networking event can be unnerving and intimidating. Introducing interactive games and icebreakers is a great way to diffuse that tension. It takes the pressure off and helps people find out more about each other in a fun, informal way. All in all, it ‘humanizes’ the entire experience.

You could host games like ‘Tabletop Quiz’, ‘Two Truths & a Lie’, ‘Scavenger Hunts’, and ‘Graffiti Wall’ to break the ice and help people express themselves.

3. Virtual Networking Events

With Covid-19 forcing us to mostly work remotely, virtual networking events have emerged as an important way to connect with and learn from each other. A massive advantage of virtual events is that it allows people from anywhere in the world to attend it, cutting across countries, cultures, and other such restrictions.

To host a successful virtual event, it’s crucial to host it on a good events platform with a rock-solid technological set up so that it can seamlessly stream the entire event and help you schedule and execute each activity/ interaction without a hitch.

virtual conference call

4. Targeted Connections

As an event planner, finding out the interests and intentions of your attendees before the event can be extremely helpful. And the ‘targeted connections’ method utilizes exactly that. In it, you send across a short survey to each of your attendees ahead of the event. The form can have questions that help you understand their background, interests, and their purpose for attending the event.

You can then use those answers to match them with potential attendees and email them this customized list of 8 to 10 people with their details. This technique is especially helpful if your attendees are short on time, and have a huge list of participants.

5. Coffee or Cocktail Mixers - With a Twist

If you’re looking for a more casual and unstructured way of getting people to mingle, then an afternoon coffee event or a cocktail mixer is a great way to do that. However, with a few smart ideas, such informal themes can also be given a slight direction to ensure that they’re actually getting people to network with each other.

This can be done by handing each attendee a badge with a number between 1 to 5 and then encourage people with the same numbers to mingle with one another, whether in a group or one-on-one. To mix it up further, you can also ask all the ‘1’s’ to find themselves a ‘5’ to interact with, and so on. This can keep the fun spirit of the event while, while also giving it a form.

6. Roundtables

Roundtables involve seating attendees across several small tables, dividing them in groups of 4 or 5. These events are an extremely effective way of getting attendees to interact, ideate, and collaborate with each other. It allows people to meet more people at the same time, reducing the need to repeatedly share their personal details on a one-on-one basis.

However, a successful roundtable requires smart planning in knowing who to seat next to each other. It also requires an engaging moderator who keeps sharing stimulating cues and questions that each table can use to get to know each other better.

7. ‘Smart Badges’ To Better Match Attendees

Smart badges are a quick and easy way of matching people with common interests together, especially at large events with thousands of attendees. They’re tiny RFID-equipped devices that can be worn as a button, badge, or around your neck. Each smart badge is linked to a common event app that is installed on every attendee’s phone, where they feed in their background, profile, and interests.

Whenever people with common interests are physically close to each other, their badges light up. This visual cue makes for a great ice breaker to start a conversation and helps direct it in a fruitful manner as well.

8. Gamification to Engage Attention

We’ve all been to seminars and events that seem to go on forever. In such cases, it’s easy to tune out and get glued to one’s phone. But gamification uses the attendees’ smartphone to instead keep them constantly engaged.

How? By applying the techniques of gaming, reward, and recognition to throw interesting challenges and real-time polls. Furthermore, participants get rewarded with points for completing the activity, and the totals can be displayed on a scoreboard for all to see.

With good research, planning, and execution, networking events can turn out to be fun, fruitful, and engaging for everyone involved. Networking event ideas like these can help shake off inhibitions among attendees, and help them mingle and exchange ideas with each other. Who knows, your events might just end up facilitating the next big corporate partnership.

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