Besides the adage that human beings are social creatures, what’s true is that need becomes a primary component of survival in the business world. More specifically so in events where you must network.
Perhaps you are setting up a new business or wish to expand on the one you have already. Or maybe you are looking for fresh ideas, recruit someone and the like. Needlessly to say, you cannot go about these professional circles without an opener. Not a joke, but a line or activity of sorts, an icebreaker to get the ball rolling and begin event networking.
So, what are the basic event networking icebreakers?
The fact is that someone has to initiate and the following networking ice-breakers could come in handy.
1. An online pre-intro
Now, a common and effective way to connect attendees is to incorporate hashtags online. Of course, the hashtags should also be of a fun and quirky nature to generate the interest of the crowd.
Perhaps it can ease the early jitters and organically set the goals to hit during the event.
#AshtonCityCandyConvention2018, #Sugarhigh, #Nextdayatthedentist
Additionally, creating event pages and threads online can also bring the attendee community together and help them get to know each other before, during and after the event.
2. Name tags
Of course, the typical Hello, I’m Clifford tag is not going to work. We are looking for networking icebreakers, ideas which can help you connect with someone who may have similar interests or a sense of humour. The ideas could be endless. The question now lies in where you begin.
Try introducing your name, where you’re from, the character you most wish is killed off in the next Game of Thrones season and worst way to start a conversation with you as information printed on your name tag/event greeting card. This will be more memorable than you think.
3. Reason for me being here
It is always a proven means of success if you share the most important aspect of your presence at the event. This can be slightly different from what the event is mainly about.
For example, the event could be about new and latest tools of efficiency in the field of archaeology. But you went there to research information for the new Dan Brown novel screenplay adaptation you are working on about Cleopatra and her meticulously hiding possible alien intervention which explains the Orion Constellation and the Giza pyramids alignment connection.
A solid opener is always to be honest about your motivations and soon enough you will be surrounded by the crowd you were looking for.
We all love games. These games should work towards reaching out to our communicative traits. A sports game works but nobody is looking to play a football match at an event after which they all end up sweaty, out of breath and in need to lie down and not be disturbed.
Instead, games such as two truths and a lie where you make three statements and the crowd around have to guess the lie is a great game and thoroughly interesting. Even games such as scavenger hunts and truth or dare are excellent for getting people to have fun and know each other in a fun way.
5. Speed meeting
This is akin to speed dating excepting chances of heartbreak are slimmer and professional gains quite high. The event attendees are given about two to five minutes to get to know each other before switching partners.
The topics to discuss are of course a short intro, contact information, occupation and reason for attending the event.
This works as a good networking icebreaker not because of the rather typical nature of the contents of the discussion but the time limit allows for attendees to act on their feet, quickly and with the utmost interest.
6. Be a good Samaritan
Everybody is looking to achieve something at an event. First, there’s the social interaction mountain to climb as far as introductions go. But where do you go afterwards?
After establishing the identities, you should still be able to get on with business. A good way to do this is to be a good Samaritan. After greeting each other ask what the other person is seeking and how you could be of some assistance. Chances are the other person might return the favour and subsequently contribute towards a genuine human and professional bond.
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7. Raffle draw introductions
Fill a bowl with questions with ID numbers of attendees attached to each question. Someone who draws a chit has to then find the person and strike up a conversation as per the question. Needless to say, these games cannot be contained in large crowds where it can be time-consuming to first find the person mentioned in the chit. Instead, groups of twenty should work splendidly.
The idea of play gets us engaged effortlessly, anyway. But the anticipation of finding your partner and being found yet never knowing what you will be asked is truly an enjoyable experience and helps build friendships and allow for successful event networking.
8. Ask for help – the smart way
Yes, it does seem pretty self-evident that it is an obvious way to strike up a conversation. But you cannot just walk about going “excuse me, can you…?” the whole time.
You need to phrase it in a way that shows respect but also that their input would be helpful to you. This is both complimentary and genuinely causes the person to take an interest in you and invest their time & ideas sincerely.
9. Topical challenge
Sometimes, unless it is a challenge or task, we simply could not be bothered to do it. Now, events could try to assign a task to someone where they have to meet several people to get the job done.
Essentially, solve a timely & topical problem or challenge. Short problems about the industry where a varied group must come together and solve is an ideal way.
If it is an orange farmers’ convention and the issue of a drought is the main theme to be addressed, then a farm owner, farmer, water conservationist and an interested investor could be a rather fascinating group to address the matter and thereby make connections and come out of the event with a couple business cards.
So, you’re an event manager? Then check our editor’s pick on Ultimate Event Marketing Guide
10. Favourite pop culture guilty pleasure
Sure, it’s safe to say Breaking Bad is your number one show but imagine connecting on much sillier things. A good networking icebreaker is made greater when people act out of their sense of humour about themselves than trying to come off as excessively successful and perfect.
Soon enough, for example, cliques will form and there will be a contention between the Kardashians camp on one side and Teen Mom on the other for event domination for having the most members. It is a realistic scenario, and funnily we all know it.
11. Escape room challenges
Build easy to take down stalls and turn it into an escape room. The event managers are going to assign the group members in advance. The members, of course, are unfamiliar with each other. Here, teamwork is undoubtedly necessary to solve this challenge.
The challenges should not be too difficult, though. Make it obvious to solve in about two, three minutes and they should be able to exit the challenge knowing they have made friends and people compatible to network with for the rest of the show.
12. Life besides work
Once all the charade is over, we get to business and by the end of the event now that introductions have been made, you can relax and share real life talks.
Who says that authentic bond only has to come at the end? As a good networking icebreaker, allocate a couple of green coloured cards to each attendee.
Somebody must ask them a bunch of regular, boring questions and if it seems earnest enough, they will be hand over a green card per question.
What did you do this weekend? What is your favourite vacation spot? What did you think of the game yesterday?
Set about 15 minutes for this. In the end, those with the fewest to no cards get prizes. Through this quick event networking icebreaker method, people will have successfully participated in something that builds off of their communal skills and the prize incentive further motivates each attendee to give their best to it.
Whether you win or lose the prize, people now know enough about you, and vice versa, to approach and start talking business seamlessly.
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