How to Foster Great Networking at Your Next Event

A little ice breaker can go a long way. Sometimes that’s all you need to change the game at your next networking event.

Did I say “game”?  Why yes, I most definitely did. Sparking a little competition in your guests can foster new relationships in such a simple way. It can bring out personalities you didn’t even know existed or instigate a conversation between two employees who never talk to each other in the office. Here’s what we did when a Chicago-based association approached us to plan their PAC Fundraising Reception in November at the Westin O’Hare.

Designing The Event

First step was choosing the Olympic Games theme, which meant we’d be designing the event around activities. We created an “in-the-round” set up dance floor as the center stage, risers for bleacher-style seating, and standard banquet chairs as the team benches. By using the hotel’s existing equipment, we managed to save on the budget and allocate funds toward more important decor.

Create An Exciting Entrance

We wanted to start the event off right. This group doesn’t regularly attend a themed event so we took advantage of the opportunity to include the “Wow” factor from the start. Check out these amazing flame-looking decor items from AirDD. With the Olympic Torch in mind, we lined the entry way with these glowing flames and ended with an actual eight-foot torch prop with electronic fire.

Selecting The Right Games

Choosing the right games for attendees to play is key. We needed for people with all skill levels and talents to participate while, hopefully, having a lot of fun and a ton of laughs. We set on “Minute To Win It” games, which are fun games that take about a minute to complete. These are typically very quick–hence the name–extremely cheap when it comes to supplies, and pretty hysterical to watch. You can find a list of options on The Budget Diet.  Because of the TV show that was on NBC years back, there are actual videos produced that you can stream at your event to show how each game will work like this one.  (This can totally can look like you produced it yourself too. Bonus!)

Engaging Everyone

For this event, we limited the teams to eight teams of eight players, representing the associations eight different regions.  There were about 150 people in attendance so we added an “Ultimate Fan” Station where attendees who weren’t actively participating in games could get crafty and make signs, use foam fingers and route on their own region. The most creative guest (aka Ultimate Fan), won an Amex gift card!

And there has to be a photo booth, right?  We designed this booth to replicate an Olympics-style podium with giant gold Olympics rings hanging in the background and added some props  to further encourage participation. The posing continued all night long…

The Final Result

The fully-scripted evening, with coordinated beats by Okyne MediaLab DJ, continued long after the medals had been awarded. Guests took over the dance floor and kept the night going an hour past the time the scheduled end time!  Now that’s a party!

The feedback has been amazing. Goes to show a little change, can go a long way. Perhaps a “game-changer”? (Yes, I said it.)

This style of event can work perfectly for staff retreats, office parties or fundraisers like this one. Shoot us a note if you need any tips on executing an event like this yourself!

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