95% of business managers think that better business relationships are built through face-to-face meetings.
Professionals are always looking to meet new people in related industries. A networking event is a perfect way to make this happen, but it has to strike the right balance of professionalism and fun.
Your ability to attract top professionals to your event will depend fully on how your event is planned. In this post, we’re going to give you some inspiration by showing you 8 networking event ideas that will attract the best and brightest from every industry.
You don’t have to be a professional event planner to nail this type of gathering. Keep reading, and you’ll have amazing ideas for networking events now and in the future.
Table of Contents
1. Get A Unique Venue
The hardest part of planning a networking event is finding the right venue. It always ends up being in a hotel or some conference center that isn’t all that inspiring.
Think outside the box when you select an event venue. If your networking event is in the summer, try doing it at a garden or a winery. If it’s indoors, hold it at a museum or gallery.
The more people have to talk about, whether it’s a business deal or a piece of art, the better the event is going to go. At the end of the day, you’re trying to foster relationships.
2. Prioritize Entertainment
Entertainment should always be a piece of the event planning puzzle, even if your goal is to build a professional network. You could hire a cover band or a comedian – it doesn’t really matter. An entertainer will provide something for people to congregate around and, most importantly, guarantee a good time.
Schedule the entertainment for some time in the evening and make sure that it doesn’t run too long. The last thing you want is for your entertainer to take away from the goal of the event.
3. Implement an Event Networking Platform
Networking events can always use a bit of extra stimulus. We’ve all been to events where it feels awkward and people aren’t really able to connect with one another because there’s too much ice to break.
The thing is, everyone’s got their agenda at a networking event. Each person in attendance is there to talk to someone about services they can offer as well as services they could make use of.
For that reason, you should try to implement an event networking platform, like Braindate. These tools allow people to utilize a social media-like platform to post topics that they’re interested in discussing. They can do this before, during, or after the event so every attendee walks out of your event satisfied.
4. Keep It Industry-Specific
One of the best things you can do when planning a professional mixer like this is to keep it industry specific. When the focus of your event is too broad, building relationships is going to be a complete mess.
When these professionals agree to go to your event, it should be under the pretense that it makes sense for them to be there. If you’re planning on holding more of these kinds of gatherings, then it’s important to prioritize the happiness of your attendees. The better they do, the better you’ll do.
5. Use Icebreaker Activities
There are countless common activities that are meant to promote team building and networking at these kinds of events. Whether it’s a scavenger hunt or human bingo, you can put people in situations where they’re forced to work together.
Not everyone’s a natural when it comes to networking. Organized activities help to break the ice and coerce people out of their shells. All it takes is a quick Google search, and you’ll find countless icebreaker games to choose from.
6. Speed Networking
Speed networking is another great way to get people out of their comfort zone in the most productive way possible. It’s exactly what it sounds like: people pair up for 3-5 minutes at a time, and, just like speed dating, when the bell goes, they have to switch to a new person.
After the game is finished, attendees are welcome to resume conversations that were started earlier in the game. It’s an efficient way to help people network and can be done near the beginning of your event.
7. Roundtable Discussions
If you’re doing a networking conference, an on-stage roundtable discussion is a great way to demonstrate the value of networking. Put 4 or 5 top professionals at a table with a moderator and let them discuss industry-related issues for an hour.
The idea is to demonstrate how open discussion can lead to interesting ideas, which can promote further discussion by other attendees. You can also center your entire event around roundtable discussions.
Group certain people together and give them a few topics to discuss or problems to solve. The goal is just to see what happens. You never know what kind of relationships can grow out of a brainstorming session like this.
8. Happy Hour
Networking events can foster a lot of anxiety, at least in the beginning. If you want people to hit the ground running, invite them to a happy hour networking session. Giving people alcohol is a foolproof way to get them talking.
These are best done at the very start of a networking event. The conversations will be informal, and people will get to know each other before the real event starts. Serve a few drinks and light snacks and let them act as catalysts for interesting discussion.
Coming Up With New Networking Event Ideas
These great networking event ideas will ensure that you’re always coming to the planning stage with fresh thoughts and ideas. As long as you have a great space and interesting people coming to your event, the details are just the cherry on top. Try a few of these ideas and see what works.
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