So a couple of days ago, we started talking about networking “games” that you might sometimes encounter at various professional gatherings. Then yesterday we took a short break to focus more closely on speed networking. Today let’s finish up the list of some of the games you might encounter.

  • Business card bingo. This one often happens at trade shows and the like.  The idea is that you are given a blank “Bingo” card (a five-by-five grid with a “free” space in the center). As you circulate around the show, you get a business card and a sticker from each exhibitor. You place the sticker in one of the grid spots. At the end of the day you play a game of “Bingo” where the organizer calls out the exhibitor names until someone gets five in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Usually there is a prize involved. My only problem with this game is that it focuses on quantity over quality. Also, people tend to focus more on winning the prize than on the networking it is supposed to engender. Just be sure as you are scurrying about trying to get your 24 stickers that you are still engaging people and having conversations that are deeper than “May I have a sticker, please?”
  • Partner introductions. You’ll see this one occasionally at all-day or multi-day seminars. One of the first things the host will have you do is pair up and prepare an introduction about the person next to you. You will then each in turn, stand up and present your introduction. Actually, as uncomfortable as it can be to speak in front of a group, I do like this one. Think about it. You are basically required to find out information about the person next to you. Pull out your INFER questions and have at it. I recommend that you each take turns asking questions and you go first. If you are asking the good questions (the ones you want someone else to ask you), there’s a good chance that your partner will simply mirror you and ask you the same questions in return. Not only that, they will then announce that information to the room at large!
  • Find your partner. I’ve seen this one done at large mixer-style events. I really don’t care for it much and think it’s one of the least successful networking games (at least for the purpose of encouraging networking). The idea is that as you walk into an event, you receive two nametags. One has your name on it as usual. The other has a word or a mark or a paragraph. The idea is that you are supposed to locate your matching nametag. One of the ones I played had words and phrases associated with the sponsor’s business and the matching tag had the (sometimes quite long) definition.  OK, first of all, for a long definition to fit on a nametag, the font, of necessity, must be somewhat small. Now imagine that I (a man) have a term for which I am searching for the corresponding definition. On average half of the women at the event will be wearing definitions. Not to be too crass, but the end result is that this game has me walking around staring at women’s chests for long periods of time looking for the stupid definition — not a good way to make anyone comfortable with starting a long-term business relationship. People also have a tendency to rush from person to person looking for their match without actually talking to anyone. Not the result you are looking for.  My suggestion? Get a drink and chat with anyone else who doesn’t want to play such a silly game.
Well, that’s my list for now. If you’ve had experience with any others, I would love to add them, so feel free to send them in. In the meantime just remember: No matter what the game is, the winner is the person who develops the best network.
Photo credit: Robert Banh