Networking events are some of the best places to connect, build relationships, and link up with potential customers. But while the art of conversation may be easy for some, more introverted folks may be left with the short end of the stick at such events – and miss out on valuable opportunities to build networks.
What does this mean for event planners? A lot. Doubly so if you’re running a networking event in a country with naturally reserved societies – where speaking with strangers can be especially intimidating.
This can significantly impact the value that your audiences get from these events – and effect your sign up rates for future networking sessions. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
These are our 3 favourite ideas for breaking the ice at networking sessions and getting everyone participating.
Who Has My Nametag?
This is a fantastic game to play with smaller groups, as the first icebreaker of the day. Start by deliberately giving everyone someone else’s name tag during registration. After your host says a few words to warm everyone up, ask your guests to walk around the room and find the person who has their name tag.
The catch is, before getting their name tags back, they’ll need to answer 3 questions about themselves (that the person with their name tag will get to ask them). While this means that each participant will only talk to 2 people, it will get everyone in the room warmed up, and have the room buzzing with noise and excitement.
Plus, the game only takes a few minutes to complete, which makes it the perfect introductory activity at any networking event.
Business Card Maven
In this activity, participants are given 5 minutes to collect as many business cards as they can. And while this game doesn’t encourage engaging conversations or deep business discussion, it isn’t meant to.
This activity simply gives everyone an excuse to meet as many people as possible, and hand out business cards (while also collecting them) without feeling shy, apprehensive, or worried about being seen as “pushy” – because after all, everyone’s doing it as part of a group activity.
Even better, this activity can be done with big and small audiences alike. In fact, the bigger the audience, the more buzz there’ll be around the room!
This isn’t an icebreaking game, but is an excellent way of getting your audience engaged during your session’s activities – especially during speakers’ presentations. Here’s how it works.
- As your speakers walk audience members through their presentation, they can ask the audience for their opinions on certain matters, by simply asking them to vote.
- Results can be gathered and shown on screen in real-time, which will dramatically increase your participants’ level of engagement and attention span.
- This is because they’ll get to see how their opinions and votes stack up against the rest of the room’s votes – and speakers can talk about these results immediately, answering questions along the way.
Best of all, real-time voting is simple to do and affordable, with the right technology. For example, the Angage voting system provides each participant with an easy-to-use keypad that they can vote with – and user-friendly software that event managers can use to view and manage voting results.
Keep Participants Engaged
We hope these 3 simple suggestions with help your networking sessions get started on the right foot (and with the right energy), then keep participants engaged – with your event’s activities, and each other.
Help your participants get the jitters out of their system so they can network more effectively, and they’ll thank you by showing up for future events. (And recommend your sessions to business associates.)