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30 Best Networking Event Ideas - Offline Icebreakers to Try in 2023
Are you about to host an event but are afraid it will turn into the same old, same old?
You want to spice things up and create a memorable event, but not sure where to start?
Sweat no more! We’ve compiled a list of 30 engaging icebreakers to try at your next networking event.
From interactive games to creative challenges, these networking event ideas are sure to break the ice and get everyone mingling, laughing, and forming new professional bonds.
Let’s dive in!
How Can You Choose The Right Icebreaker for Your Audience?
Networking events come in different shapes and sizes, just as the type of audience they attract.
Nonetheless, regardless of the event type, there are universal rules when choosing the right icebreaker:
✨Safe icebreakers - You shouldn’t immediately put people in the limelight, expecting them to bond and share stories immediately.
Instead, go for a more subtle and gradual transition and give people initial time to relax.
✨Simple-to-follow icebreakers - Go for an activity with simple rules which don’t take too long to explain.
✨ Interactive icebreakers - The main point of icebreakers is to ignite interaction, so make your icebreakers light and fun.
✨ Icebreakers related to the event - If possible, choose icebreakers that match the theme or the event's topic.
Note: Watch out if you choose icebreakers that are more personal or require physical activities, such as touching the other person.
You must check beforehand if the attendees are ok with that.
With basic rules out of the way, it’s time we went through 30 networking event ideas.
30 Networking Event Ideas for Breaking the Ice
1. Human Bingo
Create bingo cards with various facts, hobbies, or interests. Attendees must mingle and find other attendees with matching facts to fill their bingo cards.
2. Two Truths and a Lie
Each participant shares two true statements and one lie about themselves. The rest of the group has to guess which is the lie.
3. Speed Networking
Similar to speed dating, attendees spend a few minutes with each person, quickly introducing themselves and exchanging contact information before moving on to the next participant.
ProTip: If you have a Tapni digital profile, for example, you can immediately share the link to your profile to save precious time so your “partner” can instantly find out more about you.
And the best thing is that the other person doesn’t need to have the app.
4. Themed Costume Party
Encourage attendees to dress up according to a specific theme, which can be a conversation starter for guests.
5. Photo Scavenger Hunt
Divide attendees into teams and give them a list of items or locations within the event venue to photograph themselves with. The first team to complete the list wins.
6. Round Robin Introductions
Attendees stand in a circle, and each person takes turns introducing themselves and sharing one interesting fact about themselves.
Note: You can use a soft or foam ball that the attendees toss one to another and introduce themselves. It is more energetic and interactive than the traditional game.
7. Name Tag Trivia
Each attendee writes a fun fact about themselves on their name tag, and the attendees try to learn more about the fact written on each other's name tags.
8. Puzzle Piece Connections
Give attendees puzzle pieces upon arrival, then encourage them to find the people with the matching pieces and connect them together.
9. Charity Activity
Organize a small community service project, such as assembling care packages or creating no-sew blankets for donation, allowing attendees to bond over an altruistic activity.
10. Interactive Workshops
Offer workshops that require group activities or collaborations, encouraging participants to interact while learning a new skill or acquiring knowledge on specific topics.
11. Bring a Personal Object
Each attendee brings a personal object that represents them or their work and shares the story behind it.
It can be anything from a favorite book or toy to a family heirloom or their craft project. The key is to choose something that has personal meaning to them and that they can talk about for a few minutes.
12. Group Charades
Attendees are divided into teams and take turns acting out professional concepts or terms while their teammates guess.
13. Play Pictionary
Instead of acting out, the attendees can draw a visual representation of a professional concept or term while their teammates guess.
14. Networking Bingo
Create a bingo card with professional-related phrases, buzzwords, or topics that attendees can cross off as they meet people who fit each description.
15. One-Word Introductions
Each attendee introduces themselves with a word describing them or their profession.
16. Storytelling Circle
Each participant shares a personal or professional story, and other attendees share similar experiences.
17. Storytelling Circle 2
Instead of sharing a personal or professional story, the attendees can together create a story of their own.
You should provide an intro sentence, and then each participant adds a new sentence to the story.
You should limit the activity to 10 minutes at maximum. Otherwise, it becomes too hard to remember the plot.
You’d be positively surprised at the range and variety of stories the attendees can come up with.
Note: The intro line that always did wonders for me is: ” When Mary opened the door, she couldn’t believe her eyes.”
18. Shared Experience
The attendees share a unique or interesting experience related to their profession, and others share similar experiences.
19. Trivia or Quiz Challenge
You can organize a professional-related trivia or quiz game to break the ice and get the attendees mingling and talking.
20. Expert Panel
Invite a panel of experts to share their insights and experiences on a professional-related topic and allow attendees to ask questions and network with each other.
21. Networking Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of professional-related items or tasks that attendees must complete or find while networking with each other.
22. The Elevator Pitch Competition
A good thing about this activity is that it’s simple to set up and can be done with any size group.
To start, each person writes down their elevator pitch on a slip of paper. Once everyone has finished, the slips of paper are collected and shuffled.
Then, each person takes turns drawing a slip of paper and giving their elevator pitch to the group.
The group then decides which person has the best elevator pitch, and they win the prize.
23. Risky Biographies
The attendees share something embarrassing or funny about themselves.
Therefore, this can be a great way to build trust and rapport with others and get some laughs.
But remember what we’ve said earlier - make sure a person is comfortable sharing whatever they choose to share.
24. Card Games
You can distribute decks of playing cards, and the attendees need to find a person with the same card as theirs.
In addition, they can also form a group when they find other participants who have the same suit and try to find similarities and shared interests within the group.
This variant is better for smaller groups - otherwise, the newly-formed group becomes too large.
25. Traditional Games
If you have larger groups or teams, playing traditional games such as Taboo or Werewolves is a great way for the attendees to interact and break the ice.
Both games are popular, but I’ve noticed that the participants prefer Werewolves because of the mystery element, deduction skills, and reading people.
26. Crafts & Art Projects
Once you break the attendees into groups, you can engage them in a simple craft project. It could be making their group flag, badge, banner, etc.
27. Marshmallow Challenge
Similar to the previous activity, you can engage the attendees with this popular classic.
All you need is uncooked spaghetti, or sticks, a marshmallow, some string, and tape.
The attendees can combine the pieces any way they like, on condition that the marshmallow goes on top.
The winning group is the one that builds the highest “tower.”
28. Chinese Whispers
A simple and funny game where the attendees form two lines, and the first player in each line passes the message or words to the other person until the message reaches the last person in the line.
The person needs to say the word out loud.
Usually, the message gets distorted along the way, so the final version ends up completely different from the original one. And that’s the funniest and most enjoyable part.
Note: Chinese Whispers work great if you have international attendees because they can choose a word from their language.
29. Lateral Thinking Puzzles
This is one of my favorite activities and, more importantly, one of the attendees’ most enjoyable activities.
You should prepare a bunch of lateral thinking puzzles upfront. My favorite source is Sloane’s Lateral Thinking Puzzlers.
Of course, these puzzles are almost impossible to work out, but they provide so much fun and interaction.
Considering it is highly unlikely that the attendees will crack those puzzles, you can turn it into a game where the most original, the funniest, or the strangest solution gets a small prize or wins points.
This way, the attendees will not be frustrated for not cracking the puzzle.
30. Interactive Polls
Think of a multiple-choice question - any typical icebreaker question will do.
Next, display the question on the main screen so people can see it when they enter.
Here is an example of how to create interactive polls with Slido.
They should use their mobile phones to vote and monitor how the results change each time a new attendee arrives.
You can later pair or group up the attendees with the same answers.
Note: With digital solutions, such as Tapni, you can easily group and regroup the attendees and pair them up during the event.
The Main Takeaways
We’ve come to the end of our list of 30 networking event ideas.
At the end of the day, these icebreakers should
- encourage conversation,
- collaboration, and
- creativity among attendees,
making networking events more engaging and enjoyable for everyone involved.
Remember, the key to a successful networking event is to create an environment where attendees feel comfortable and confident to make meaningful connections and build lasting relationships.
And one way to boost and facilitate networking is by using digital business cards and digital solutions, such as Tapni.
Why Should You Choose Tapni?
Tapni is a digital solution that not only provides digital business cards and accessories, such as keychains, stickers, and wristbands but also provides a robust set of features for teams and businesses.
So how can Tapni help you?
With Tapni, you can:
🔥 Set a follow-up reminder not to miss reaching out to your new contacts.
🔥 Organize and manage your contacts easily by regrouping and tagging them in one go.
🔥 Directly send your contacts to your CRM.
🔥 Get valuable insights into your event’s metrics and ROI.
🔥 Scan and add info from traditional business cards.
🔥 And much more.
Ready to turn ordinary networking events into memorable ones?
Then, create your Tapni card today and start building lasting business relationships.
1. How do You Make a Networking Event Fun?
The key thing is to consider the type of event and the crowd since they are the key factors when setting the tone of your event.
Thus, incorporate interactive and engaging activities which the attendees will feel comfortable participating in.
2. What are the 4 C’s at Networking Events?
The 4 C’s stand for Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication. In addition, they are the key elements you should keep in mind when organizing icebreaker activities.
3. How Long Should an Icebreaker Last?
In general, icebreakers shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes. It will largely depend on why you use icebreakers for your event, but they should last long enough to give people time to feel comfortable.
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