6 Quick Networking Activities Planners Should Know

Attendees not mingling? Deploy one of these tools to get guests talking

Big or small, events are most effective when attendees are communicating, collaborating and engaging with one another. But what happens when attendees aren’t mingling as you’d hoped?

Instead of allowing attendees to struggle, encourage interaction. These six quick networking activities are great to have in your back pocket in case of a communication SOS—and are sure to get guests chatting.

1. Speed networking

You’ve heard of speed dating, now here’s the professional spin: speed networking. Prepare notecards with several lighthearted questions and disperse among guests. Then, have attendees pair up and discuss each question for five minutes. When time is up, have guests rotate and speak with another person. This will help them get to know one another, hopefully making everyone more comfortable.

2. Discussion tables

If attendees are seated in groups, turn downtime into a discussion opportunity. Like speed networking, hand out prompts—professional, silly or otherwise—for attendees to chat through, getting to know each other better in the process.

3. Seat swap

 If you notice attendees are sticking closely to the people they know, ask them to swap seats with the people sitting next to them. Once they’ve swapped, have everyone introduce themselves to their new neighbors. The meeting planner’s version of musical chairs, the seating change will connect attendees to guests they might not have talked to otherwise. 

4. Trivia

If remote attendees are on your meeting’s guest list, don’t forget to include activities that lend themselves to virtual participation. For instance, a short game of trivia relies on the skills and knowledge of all attendees, near and far. Have remote guests serve as one team, with in-person attendees making up competing groups. When each round is done, teams should submit their answers to the trivia moderator online via your videoconferencing tool. That way, remote attendees won’t miss out on anything happening on location. 

5. Walkabouts

Hosting a destination meeting? Break up attendees in small groups and send them on a walk to explore the city. Not only will the walk get guests talking about the sights around them, but it will also get them up and moving and provide an active break to the day. Just remember to send groups in varying directions so they don’t clump together and crowd walkways.  

6. “What’s the story of your name?”

If you’re hosting an event for a multicultural audience, consider an activity that will allow other attendees to learn about different cultures. At smaller events, for example, go around the room and have everyone share what their name means and where it came from. Guests will not only get to learn more about attendees as individuals but will also gain insight on the values of their cultures as well.