Event planning is all about creating memorable experiences for your attendees and helping them connect with fellow event-goers. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, networking games can be an effective—and fun—way to connect attendees.
Unfortunately, networking is often overlooked. Sure, a cocktail reception can be better than nothing, but is it an effective way to connect the right people? Simply put: it’s not. We’re not here to hate on mix-and-mingle events, but we do think there are better session options available.
A lot of times event planners think cocktail welcome receptions are a laid-back, relaxing way for attendees to network. The thing is, though, they aren’t relaxing. For a good majority of people, networking events without any structure are intimidating. Approaching random people takes courage. And even with it, there’s no guarantee the right people will come in contact with each other.
Instead, we’re here to tell you about more strategic and more fun networking ideas. Here are 4 options we’re recommending and why we are focusing on these over anything else.
Networking games that utilize matching technology:
1. Speed networking:
Most people have heard of speed dating, but not everyone has heard of speed networking. So, what exactly is it? In short, speed networking is an accelerated way to maximize the number of new connections an attendee can make. Not only that, but it also takes any awkwardness out of having to approach random strangers.
Each speed networking round typically ranges from 5-10 minutes so that attendees have enough time to talk and establish a connection but not long enough that attendees feel stuck if they end up not having anything in common.
Sounds pretty efficient right? Well, if you also want to increase the quality of connections in addition to the quantity, matching software can be used to pair attendees who have shared interests. It’s quite literally matchmaking for professionals. The only thing you need to do is decide how you can categorize your attendees.
After that, attendees dictate which categories of people they’re interested in networking with through a short survey they fill out when registering. From there, the software uses an advanced algorithm to create customized meetings for each attendee. It doesn’t get much more personalized than that.
And, the average 90-minute networking session with 100 participants generates around 300 new connections, but a speed networking event creates more than 1,000 in the same time period. That’s 333% more meaningful connections!
You can also choose from a variety of different event objectives, including peer-to-peer, exhibitor/attendee, and mentoring.
Everyone has heard of roundtables, but hear us out. We aren’t talking about traditional roundtables – we’re talking about targeted round tables. Targeted roundtables offer strategic seating assignments to improve group networking. As with speed networking, you’ll decide how to categorize your attendees and break up people accordingly. But don’t worry, it doesn’t require a ton of manual manipulation or administrative time.
Here’s why. There’s already technology that can create strategic seating assignments at the touch of a button. At the event, you can create fun prompts to help kick off the conversations. Group settings like this can be less intimidating than one-on-one meetings.
Networking games that are contest driven:
3. Business card collection:
If you’re set on hosting a mix-and-mingle session, try adding an element of competition. Having a contest can increase the chances that your attendees branch out and meet more people.
Offering a business card collection could be the extra push that attendees need to really branch out.
Offering a prize to the winner isn’t a bad idea either. After the contest ends, consider offering another session that isn’t so fast-paced. The business card collection is a great ice breaker but the conversations will probably be brief. Giving them time after to continue those conversations is definitely worthwhile.
Networking games that promote teamwork:
4. Scavenger hunts:
Scavenger hunts are becoming an increasingly popular way to promote teamwork and help attendees meet new people. You can do event-wide or even city-wide scavenger hunts.
Between visiting sponsor booths, posting to social media, reaching out to new attendees, and answering questions about sessions, scavenger hunts can be a great way to increase both exhibitor and attendee engagement.
If you’re wondering how exactly it works, it’s essentially like this: your attendees will download a scavenger hunt mobile app and see a list of challenges they need to complete. These challenges can be completely wrapped up in your event. Each challenge will have a certain number of points, with a prize awarded to the winner(s).
Scavenger hunt challenges could include things such as:
Visit 2 sponsor booths
Share a picture on Instagram with our event backdrop
Find a fellow attendee who shares the same job title as you
Refer a colleague who you think would enjoy this event next year
Answer a question about your thoughts on the keynote speaker
Suggest a session for next year
If you want to learn more about incorporating a scavenger hunt into your event, these are some resources you can use: Eventzee Conference Scavenger Hunt App, CadmiumCD’s Knowledge Hunt, and Go Scavenger Hunts.
Hopefully, these networking games can help simplify your event planning process! It’s safe to say there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into planning a successful conference or corporate event. The good news is, these solutions include technology that does most of the work for you.
Here’s to you, your event planning, and your best event yet.