Hosting a networking event is more than just getting a group of business professionals together and hoping they’ll talk to one another. To create a successful networking event, you need to make sure everyone feels comfortable, mingles and makes some valuable connections.
When I facilitate an activity at the events I present at, the volume in the room rises, people smile more and stay longer. Organisers often say it's the best event they have held.... So, how can you do this? Ensure you plan to incorporate suitable networking activities into your event as icebreakers (before or after formal presentations - I prefer after). Even the most extroverted people sometimes have trouble walking into a room and start a conversation, so if you can facilitate this process, it makes it much easier for everyone.
Fun activities are almost guaranteed to make your event a hit. When people are having fun, they are more relaxed and more open to conversation. They’ll make great connections, and will enjoy your event so much that they’ll come to the next one too!
With silly season just around the corner, here are some of fun networking activity ideas to get the party started.
Divide the group in half and have them create two circles, one inside the other, with each person from the inner circle facing a partner in the outer circle. The host asks a question, such as “What did you want to be when you grew up?” and the two people facing each other tell each other their answers. Then everyone moves one place to the left and the host asks another question.
By the end of the round, everyone has met and knows a bit more about each person in the room (and possibly themselves too!)
If your event goes for a few hours, don’t let your guests sit next to the same person for the whole day. After each break, make sure they move around and sit next to someone new that they haven’t met yet.
Divide your audience into small groups and give each group a topic to discuss amongst themselves for 10 minutes. This is a great way for conversations to start, and they are bound to naturally continue after the time is up.
Creating some fun rules for the event encourages new introductions. You could make rules such as asking people who know each other not to speak to one another for the first half hour of the event. Also rather than huddling in a circle to talk, stand in a semicircle so that others can easily join in. Anyone seen forming a circle has to do 10 push-ups as punishment!
The right networking activities will make your event enjoyable and memorable. Your participants will have some fun, make new connections and are likely to spread the word about your events and come to them again!
We facilitate workshops to help you host better events. To learn more about networking activities and how to network effectively, contact us for a tailored in house session to register here for the 3 hour networking skill workshop on 22 November 2016.
Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit www.juliapalmer.com & www.BusinessNetworkingAcademy.com.au