I’ve run across one or three additional networking games/activities since the last time we discussed them.

  1. Playing card seating — This isn’t so much a game as a particular technique that organizers can use to break up groups who already know each other. As each attendee enters the event, they are dealt a standard playing card. They then have to sit at the table which corresponds to that card’s suit (so if you receive the king of clubs, you sit at the “clubs” table). This can be used in conjunction with speed networking where everyone from the clubs table sits along one side of the speed networking table. This way they won’t be paired up with someone whom they just sat next to during lunch. Personally, I really like this activity. It keeps people from the same company from lumping themselves together at a single table. It’s better for them and it’s better for any other poor slob who might have been caught at the table with them.
  2. Ice-breaker topics — When you are seated at the table, there might be a card or name tent with one or more “ice-breaker” questions. These can be anything from the silly (“What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?”) to the sublime (“What book inspired you to become the person you are today?”). For anyone who has trouble starting the conversation, this isn’t a bad way to get things going. In fact, sometimes it’s the silly questions which help people find their common points of interest.
  3. Find a person — This one requires a little more preparation. Each person receives a sheet of paper with a series of things which you might find out about other people. These might be background (someone who was born in a different country), possessions (someone who owns a tuxedo), or skills (someone who has professional voice training). The goal is for you to find someone who matches each quality. There are a couple of caveats, though. One, you can’t use the same person for more than one category, and, two, you can’t just come out and ask them which categories they can fill. Now, this probably wouldn’t work so well at a networking lunch, for example, but it is a great way to help a large group of people (like a long-term class, for example) to get to know each other quickly.
I would love to hear about any other networking games or activities you run into. If you see something that I haven’t covered already, please drop me a line.
Until then, remember that it may be network, but there’s no reason you can’t have fun, too.
Photo credit: Fabrizio Ginesi