People attend business events to launch and grow professional relationships. However, as corporate crowds grow bigger, it can be challenging for attendees to connect authentically.
Don’t let your attendees wallow in stilted conversations. Instead, come to the rescue by organizing networking activities and corporate icebreakers that will foster real connections.
Here’s a list of ideas to endear your attendees to each other – and your event.
Organize group icebreakers for adults
Organizing big crowds into smaller groups for corporate icebreakers make real conversation more achievable.
- Shared storytelling: Storytelling is a wildly popular event activity, thanks to the success of organizations like The Moth. Use prompts such as “Tell us about a time you blew people away at work” and “How did your first job help you get where you are?” Ask attendees to prepare a quick story, which they can share with small groups or up on stage.
- Speed-networking: Like speed-dating, pair participants up for just 2-3 minutes at a time. Ask them to get to know each other, exchange contact info, and find a takeaway they’ll remember about the other person.
- Poll the audience: Audience polls can be effective corporate icebreakers if it’s not realistic to break out in small groups. Apps like Sli.do enable digital polling and interactive Q&As that display results on a screen in real time.
- Provide prompts: Use prompts to create a sentence-finishing game. Offer starters like: “The first album I ever bought was…” or “The best way for me to relax is…” Participants fill in the blanks.
- Brainstorm goals: For adults, icebreakers aren’t just about getting people over their initial shyness. They can also serve as productive kick-off sessions. Pair off participants to brainstorm what they would like to accomplish at the event.
- Invent new words: Another way to get attendees thinking creatively is the “invent a new word” challenge. Hand out flashcards naming common objects — ocean, rainbow, star, tree, house — and have participants work together to think of new names. This will challenge preconceptions and bring people together in an unpredictable way.
- Q&A Prep: Pair off participants and have them come up with two or three questions to ask panelists or speakers.
- The Paper Telephone game
Add other types of networking activities into the mix
Of course, corporate icebreakers aren’t the only way to coax attendees out of their shells. Help facilitate unstructured networking by giving attendees better ways to connect throughout your event.
- Unstructured time: Make sure your event leaves plenty of time for non-structured networking. Onsite luncheons, happy hours, and other types of “free time” are great opportunities to meet and greet.
- Enable networking apps: Help event-goers tap into the cloud to figure out who they want to connect with on the ground. Apps like Presdo Match allow event attendees to embed their LinkedIn profiles, making it easy for attendees to check each other out.
- Competitive networking: Make networking activities competitive. Instruct attendees to collect business cards from every person they speak to at the event. At the end, the person with the most business cards gets a prize and recognition for his or her networking aplomb.
- Connect attendees online: Custom event hashtags let attendees connect online before, during and after your event. Yes, they’re a great marketing technique for building buzz around events. But hashtags are also a nice way to get your registered attendees excited and spark conversation.
- Continue the connection: Don’t let the energy wane just because your event is over. Encourage participants to stay in touch with you and each other via your website, forums like a Facebook or LinkedIn group, social media, and your mailing list.
Helping your attendees create long-lasting connections on their own is just the beginning. To find out how you can better understand your attendees and their needs, make sure to read Beyond Registration: Using Data to Supercharge Your Event.