Creative Networking Ideas

May Not Globally Apply

Now that you have inspiring food and beverage plans, the right venue and physical distancing ideas, the objective is to keep attendees engaged and energized in order to meet your networking goals. Here are several out-of-the-box ideas to get attendees talking.

  • Color coded headsets, lanyards, name badges or outerwear

    t-shirts of various colors

    • Network with headsets that are colored and flash by type of music.
    • Various colors can be used to assign event rooms, seating arrangements, reception rooms or dining areas. For example, those with red lanyards will go to the main ballroom, sit at the red tables and go to the red reception.
    • Use of color lanyards could also convey the level of physical distancing an attendee prefers to maintain during the event.  For example, a green lanyard means the attendee is open to meeting and being around other people, a red lanyard means preference for more than the locally recommended physical distancing requirement.
    • Vibrating lanyards can be used to alert attendees if they come closer than what the local recommended physical distancing requirements advise.
    • Color specific shirts or outerwear without the use of lanyards is another sustainable way to depict networking groups, common interests or event times.
    • Example:
      1. Blue shirts should meet in the ballroom at a specific time.
      2. Pink shirts are all part of regional sales teams and should connect to discuss their similar sales processes.
      3. Screen printed or embroidered shirts or outerwear could also provide a sponsorship opportunity.

  • Tradeshows

    cell phone with photo of woman looking at laptop screen of virtual meeting

    • Assign vendors to individual reception rooms where they can have dedicated time with guests to show their product or service. Another option is for the vendors to move from room to room while guests stay in their designated room. Consider charging vendors additional fees.
    • Pre-assign entry time slots for all attendees. Staggering arrival times ensures that the exhibit hall will not exceed capacity. Consider offering event sponsors dedicated time with specific attendees in the form of coffee break or reception time slots.
    • Using guest rooms as exhibit space—one exhibitor in each room—dedicated to one-on-one time for vendors and attendees. Attendee arrival times can be staggered, and the rooms spaced appropriately to accommodate physical distancing.
    • For hybrid events, consider creating a virtual exhibit floor with sponsorship opportunities offering direct links to videos and virtual breakout rooms.
    • When planning your vendor space/layout, talk to your vendor and event manager about creative ways to reduce booth space in order to accommodate physical distancing while still promoting a high level of engagement.

Speed Networking

  • Pre-assign one group of attendees to tables (1 person per table with local recommended physical distance amount indicator) with the instruction to remain seated. Another group of attendees will then be instructed to move from table to table in 10-minute intervals—their time to chat and connect with each seated group. A bell will ring to signal when to move to the next table, and specific flow of movement can be shown by floor decals.
  • This idea can also work well for hybrid meetings by providing a tablet or laptop at each table connected to a virtual attendee.

Meet-up Groups

  • During pre-registration, ask attendees questions which you can then use to divide them into groups based on their answers.
    Assign specific reception rooms to each group. The smaller rooms, smaller group size and common interest allows for easier networking while adhering to regional guidelines for physical distancing.
  • For hybrid meetings, include virtual attendees on a laptop or screen in the small meeting room.


  • Attendee has a profile on the app
  • Set appointments to meet during the conference (virtually or in-person)
  • People can swipe left or right to connect with other attendees in advance
  • Have longer coffee breaks to facilitate meeting people

Contactless Contact Exchange

During event registration, instruct attendees on how to implement contactless contact service, like Poken or CamCard. Contactless exchange of contact information eliminates the need to exchange business cards.