If you're planning a conference, networking event, or team-building meeting, include games and mixers to help attendees get to know one another and effectively contribute to the success of your event.
Whether it is a networking event for business professionals, company employees, or university alumni, it's important to encourage people to meet someone new or help existing teams within a business learn to work better together.
In large group settings like these, filled with new and unfamiliar faces, having some tricks up your sleeve to promote conversation and introductions between strangers will help everyone at your event walk away with a positive experience and new contacts to add to their network!
In this new social environment, virtual networking events have been taking off! An opportunity to still network with new individuals, while remaining safe in the comfort of your own home. Virtual networking events present an interesting alternative to traditional in-person networking events, especially focusing on the fact that anyone from across the globe can join and partake in this event.
Here are 15 easy, fun, and powerful ideas to implement at your next networking event! (Virtual, alumni, company retreats, professional networking, etc.)
- Extra Info Name Tag
- Human Bingo
- Scavenger Hunt
- Create Your Flag
- Candy bar Meet Up
- Business Card Collection
- Question Ball
- My First Job
- M&M Mixer
- Never Have I Ever
- Inviting a VIP speaker
- Virtual Happy Hour
- College Alumni Games
- Sporting Event
- Golf Outing
1. Extra Info Name Tag
When attendees register or sign up for your event, have them include extra information about themselves to be displayed on their name tag or lanyard.
It can be anything from their first car to the name of a pet, to a three-word description of themselves. Whatever they choose, will spark conversations among the people mingling.
2. Human Bingo
This version of Bingo involves creating BINGO cards with general facts that could apply to a number of people. (Ex: has been out of the country, is over 6 ft. tall, can play an instrument, served in the military, etc.) Each square on the BINGO card has a fact and a blank line.
Everyone receives a card and a pen and then circulates around the room looking for a person to sign their name to one of the squares. Their signature acts as the “chip.” Once someone gets a BINGO (signatures filling one row or their whole card–you decide) they can turn in their card for a prize!
3. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are great for team-building skills and can be done in a number of ways. Split your group into teams, scatter clues, and see who can collect all the clues first.
Or, do a photo scavenger hunt where you give your team a list of photos to take. Some ideas include something big, your team under something, something yellow, something that starts with the letter “w”, and your whole team with an animal. Really, the possibilities are endless!
4. Create Your Flag
Often, allowing participants to express themselves artistically can draw out introverted personalities. For this networking activity, you will provide paper and markers, colored pencils, or other drawing utensils and encourage individuals to draw a flag that represents themselves.
After everyone is finished, have them share their flags and talk about why they designed theirs in any specific way. Large groups can be encouraged to walk around and find three people whose flags have something in common with theirs.
5. Candy bar Meet Up
Use this game to divide a large group into small groups at random. Upon entering your meeting space, each person is given a candy bar. (Make sure they know they cannot eat it yet!). They can either draw it out of a bag without looking, or you can have a staff member hand it to them.
At some point during your meeting, ask everyone to find their fellow candy bars. Later call for all the Snickers to group together, all the Milky Ways, etc. Once all groups are formed, proceed with a game or icebreaker to help these strangers get to know each other.
6. Business Card Collection
Ask attendees to bring a stash of business cards to your event. Decide on an amount of time (such as between lunch and dinner, or “from now until the start of our next meeting”) and have attendees collect as many business cards from other guests as they can.
To exchange business cards, they’re required to learn something about that person. Suggest interesting questions such as “what do you hope to gain from attending this event?”
You can give the winner a prize and/or recognize them in front of the group. You can always ask them to tell the group a detail about one person they met that stood out to them.
7. Question Ball
Split into groups of about 15-20, have them form a circle, and give each group a ball. On the ball are written icebreaker questions. The ball is tossed back and forth across the circle. When someone catches the ball, they answer the question that their right-hand index finger is touching.
Some questions may include:
- What’s your favorite food?
- What would you say if you were talking in your sleep?
- What is the first movie you remember watching?
- If you were invisible, what would you do?
- If you owned a huge yacht, what would you name it?
- If you run for mayor, what would your campaign slogan be?
- What is the best thing you ever dressed up for on Halloween?
8. My First Job
This get-to-know-you networking activity is best played by a small group of 8-12 people sitting or standing in a circle or around a table. Everyone writes what they did for their first job on an index card or small piece of paper, then places it face down in the center of the table.
One leader or volunteer from the group is faced with the task of trying to place each card in front of the correct person. They can guess based on what they look like or can be allowed to ask one question.
After placing the cards where they think they belong, participants go around the circle and share whether or not the leader guessed correctly and can also share a little bit about their first job.
9. M&M Mixer
The m&m mixer can be played by small groups of 10 or 12 people. If you only get a small number of volunteers, they can be called to the front to play in front of everyone else.
Each person grabs a small handful of m&m’s and answers a question or shares something about themselves based on the colors of m&m’s in their hand. Questions/prompts can be based on the theme of your conference or event.
- Red- Embarrassing moment
- Green- Favorite sports team
- Yellow- Favorite movie
- Brown- A place they like to travel to
- Orange- Hobbies
- Blue- Wildcard
Once they answer, they can eat that M&M and move on to the next!
In some instances, you may have a networking event that might be catered to one single company or organization that is looking to build more team camaraderie.
These types of networking activities listed below may help do so!
10. Never Have I Ever
It’s a good idea to play this game up on stage to help attendees get to know the leadership of their organization. You can also ask for volunteers or have each table send one person upfront.
A group of about 5-10 people should sit on the stage. Each should have a sign on a paddle that says “I Have” on one side and “I Have Never” on the other. An emcee says “Never have I ever (fill in the blank)” and participants hold up their paddle to either agree or disagree with the statement.
You can find examples of “Never Have I Ever” statements here. (Ex: “Never have I ever jumped from a roof.” Or “Never have I ever dyed my hair a crazy color.” You should have a microphone ready to ask people to explain or tell the story of something they have done!
11. Inviting a VIP Speaker
At most professional networking events you’ll get to hear a little from everyone and discover what they do. Transform your networking event into a miniature seminar by adding a short keynote from an industry expert or thought leader.
Think of this as a networking event and webinar hybrid where your guests get the opportunity to network with not only each other but an industry expert too. Use this keynote to kick off your networking session and give everyone plenty to think about as they get to know others at your live event.
12. Host a Virtual Happy Hour
If making cocktails isn’t your thing but you enjoy a good drink — alcoholic or not — try a virtual happy hour instead. Recreate that face-to-face bar or lounge experience in an online space by getting together for casual conversations and networking over drinks. Your next virtual networking event could be a small but fun way to create a hybrid event experience for your guests. So grab your favorite glass or mug and enjoy a professional networking event from the comfort of your own home.
13. Attend a Sports Event
Hosting a networking event at a sports game will bring a different type of energy to the event that you might be missing. A night filled with cheers and camaraderie for a team will bring professionals together with more than you expect. Discussing the sporting team's strategies and mistakes can lead to your own business objectives that your fellow networking professionals may have some experience about. Building relationships for a stronger team on and off the field.
14. Golf Tournament
Golf outings are a great way for professionals to showcase what they can do on the links and what they can offer to other professionals in the business. It’s a way of forging strong relationships based upon more than just work. The golf course can be a great place to build these relationships outside of an office setting and give you a more personal insight into how others are at their core but also in a competitive light. Get out there and network “Fore” your business!
15. Friendly Competition
After separating attendees into small groups, task them with a photo or short video challenge. This is where creativity and teamwork begin to thrive. Give them 15 minutes to come up with a fun and interesting concept that is related to the event and share it via the event hashtag. With a Judge in place to decide the winners, the teams will have an achievement to reach and the ultimate goal of winning the challenge. A friendly competition will spark attendees to come together and break the ice in lieu of a victory.
Hopefully, you’re able to see many of these ideas working well for you. If you include icebreakers, networking games, and team-building exercises in your networking event the end result will be team members and participants who leave feeling connected and encouraged. Have fun!