How do you encourage networking at events?

Hi everyone,

As someone that runs conferences/meet-ups regularly (and attends A LOT of them also), I’d like to pick everyone’s brains on the different ways which they have been encouraged to network at these kinds of events.

I’m quite sociable so don’t mind wandering up to strangers but I understand that some people don’t like that… Do you think a pre-event LinkedIn group would work?



This is a small thing but I’ve found it very helpful - some events I’ve been too (WIRED is a good example) of providing delegates with name badges that are really large and have the delegate’s company name in a very big font, with their first name also large. That seems obvious, but too often it’s actually very hard to tell who’s who at an event. If you can quickly eyeball company name and first name without appearing obvious, knowing who to speak to and introducing yourself becomes much simpler.


This is a good one @clairedibs! Interested to hear people’s answers.

As @Marino says big name cards are so simple but effective and also it can save you time spent talking to the wrong people!

This might only apply to larger events, but i’ve seen organisers split their networking by inviting smaller groups with similar interests to different areas. Requires a bit of pre-event data gathering but means that attendees are in more intimate, less daunting groups who share common business interests.

I like that idea @nick_lawson - yep, i’m always clocking name badges when I go to those types of events. Wish there was the technology to have a little diamond float above our heads, colour-coded to the kind of job/industry we work in. Like Sims but in real life!


Haha yes what a great idea! In all seriousness though this is probably nearly/somewhat achievable through augmented reality technology. Without going too much into it I’m sure someone could develop a networking app where you scan a room of people and name badges with your phone the app recognises the badges and gives you extra info on them. It might look as though everyone is just videoing each other though :confused:

I think a pre event Linkedin group is a good idea as it gives people a chance to introduce themselves, then you have a look through and find people you’d be really interested to talk to. Have you tried any other ideas that have worked well?

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Maybe in the future we’ll all have spy type glasses that when we look at people it tells us all kinds of info about them!

There’s an app called SummitSync which has the swipe functionality so you can connect with people before the event, you sign in with your LinkedIn account.

There’s Whova where you can scan in people’s business cards when you talk to them and convert them into contacts. (CardMunch is a similar one)

We’ve used something as a company (before I started) where everybody at the event got a little device and you can put the devices together and it swaps your info. Can’t remember what it was called but at the time I was using NFC tags for another event and it inspired me to think about putting NFC tags on the name badges and then programming them to the details of each person. Then when you scan someone’s name tag with your phone you can save their details to your contacts. Obviously time consuming but extremely cheap!

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Another app called Presdo - very basic for the free edition. You upload the guests email addresses and it automatically finds their LinkedIn accounts. It then sends an email to all guests to get them to sign up and then people can connect with others before the event. (You can also have your agenda etc on here)

We also use ‘Speed Networking’ which is a more structured way of getting people to network. We set-up networking ‘stations’ and guests are given a card with 4 random stations on. When we start the activity, guests then have 5 minutes at each station to meet everyone else at their station before they move on. This means that the guests meet a fair few new people without the awkwardness of having to approach someone at random. (They can also move on quickly if they don’t need to talk to anyone in the group they are with)

Thanks everyone - I’ll check out those apps and I love the idea of the networking stations @Bryony!

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As a charity we are always trying to think of ideas that are free to facilitate networking! At drinks receptions and exhibitions we have used ‘networking bingo’ cards. We fill a grid with random or topic related questions, which people have to ask ‘strangers’ to obtain their contact details and instigate conversation. If everyone in room is playing the game then networking and talking to people you don’t know, doesn’t seem so awkward. Our delegates have always found it quite fun!


Came across this company today. I think the USP is helping you find and create “matches” with people you want to meet

Anyone used it?

It has some quite interesting matchmaking features that work off info attendees supply when they register, complete with a meeting planner that integrates with the event agenda. Also has functionality to scan badges and business cards.

Hi Claire,

We have a wearable device in development for precisely this purpose. Our prototype has already been featured at a number of awards shows, conferences and a couple of TEDX events. Social Wearables is a pendant that has a light based social game called Capture the Rainbow. Each attendee is given a pendant with one colour already activated. Players then locate attendees with other colours in the rainbow. When the pendants come into contact with each other, their colours are captured by both players. Players work their way around the room completing a rainbow, and to do so they must engage with each other. It’s been really successful at breaking people out of groups and encouraging them to mingle and start conversations.

I recommend a search for interactive technology providers, there is probably a lot of amazing solutions out there.

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I have been thinking about speed networking for some of my event this year. Did your attendees like it?

I also saw a company called Hiver that has a neat app for networking - basically you all install it, network and at the end you have a list of people’s Linkedin profiles that you’ve physically talked to. No more ‘ah, damn! What was the name of that person?’

In general, i’d say keep the drinks flowing and ask a poignant question at the end of the event to get the conversation started!

Hi Tribe,
I’ve had a bit of experience with longer formats of networking (eg/ an hour spent on a high energy activity) but am looking for any unusual/creative ways that poeple have got their audiences networking/talking in more like a 15-20 slot.
Keen to get away from the standard ‘Speed Networking’ with an activity or game-based idea… but also needs to be suitable for senior execs.
Any thoughts out there in the hive mind?

Hey @AlexC I moved your post into this existing one (may be some good ideas here), hope you don’t mind!

Great question, what kind of event is it that you’re running?

Yes, I saw this topic, but it seemed focused on technology and general networking. I was seeking more specifically some thoughts on short activity formats…

Hi Alexandra, personally the simplest ideas are sometimes the best - all you need is a soft ball/stress item to throw around.

Pick a poignant question “What has been the biggest challenge in your professional life so far?” “Give the three major highlights of the last year” and challenge the respondents to give an answer in no more than 30 seconds. Short, sharp and gets conversation flowing!

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Hi @clairedibs

Have you found what you were looking for yet? In any case, we do an App called Grip its an “Event Networking Platform” dedicated to empower attendees to network more effectively. Our ‘AI Matchmaking Engine’ helps attendees to find relevant people to meet based on their interest and business needs.

Hope that helps Jack :slight_smile:

Hi Alexandra,

Did you think of any ideas? I was toying around with stations and then getting people to build something out of playdough - but as a team?

Just a thought anyway…

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