Make your Networking Party something to remember!
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You hold a big conference. At the end, you host a networking party, sparing no expense. You hired the best bartenders and caterers in town. Drinks are flowing and everyone is having a good time. There is only one problem. Your attendees are only talking to people they came with! Everyone is secluded in their own little groups. No one is actually “networking.”
This defeats the entire point of having a networking party. You want your attendees to get their money’s worth. Here are Three Ideas to help get people interacting with each other.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
You want everyone to have fun, right? Chances are, everyone has a smart phone. Create a Instagram hashtag for the event. Provide a list of selfies. Here are some examples: take a photo with someone who has a beard, is wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, who is from out of town, who has seven letters or more in their last name, is drinking red wine, who owns a pet, and so on. All photos need to be with someone else. Have the attendees upload the photos to their own Instagram accounts using the hashtag and then tag themselves. When they’ve finished the list, have them bring their phones to a moderator(s) for verification. Everyone who finishes the list will go into a drawing for a prize. Make the list easy enough for everyone to win.
This will accomplish two things. One, it will fun! Everyone will have to branch out from their own groups. Two, it is free publicity for the event. All of their friends and connections will see the photos and tags. The Scavenger Hunt is not limited to Instagram. You may use whatever social media platform is most appropriate for your event.
Hire Roaming Entertainment
This is where an entertainer like me would roam around the networking party performing magic for attendees. If you would like to know more about my services specifically, click HERE. I would rather give other examples for the time being. It’s important to choose entertainment that fits the event. Magic is not always the best fit.
I attended one networking party with a Parisian theme. The event coordinator hired actors to replicate characters from the movie Moulin Rouge. There were dancers, poets, and a sitar player! The actors roamed around the party, interacting with the attendees. Lots of photos were taken and everyone had a great time.
Another event that I worked was for a vodka company. They called the event Speakeasy. I played a card shark. All of the attendees had to use a password to get in. This was a lot of fun!
Your networking party doesn’t need to have an elaborate theme to be fun. The whole point of roaming entertainment is to get the attendees interacting with each other. Give them an experience worth chatting about.
This one sounds silly. But, silly is a good thing – especially if everyone is playing along. Sometimes, it’s easier for shy people to mingle if they can be someone else. It’s also a fun guessing game. The secret identity is a celebrity or famous character written on index cards worn by the attendees. The attendees have no idea what is written on their own card. They have to figure it out based on the way other attendees treat them. The rule is, you can’t say outloud what is written on someone else’s card. But, you can give context clues. For example, if I was given Lady Gaga as my secret identity, you can make comments about my “poker face.”
There are two ways to go about this, depending on how silly you want it to be. The first way is to taped the index cards to the attendees’ foreheads (I told you it was silly). The second, less silly, way is to tape the cards to their backs. An attendee may feel awkward striking up conversation with a stranger. But, they will have no problem approaching Darth Vader.
Have the attendees download a “face swapping” app like MSQRD. Whoever uploads the most face-swap photos with the proper tags will win a prize!
Whatever you choose to do for your networking party, your attendees are going to have fun! It’s all about breaking the ice. Put the “social” back in social network. Don’t be afraid of silliness. Make it a game. But, also make it optional. You can’t force people to participate. That takes all the fun out of it. You can’t force them to have a good time. They paid to be at the event. It’s up to them to engage with each other. You are simply helping with the introduction.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found these ideas helpful. If you have anymore ideas, please share them in a comment.