Blog posting date icon
min read

3 Networking Event Ideas for Young Professionals

Now more than ever, young professionals are looking for opportunities to network with other professionals.

Holiday Shaped Cookies on White and Grey Textiles

You know what they say: It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

While this saying is overrated, it does hold some truth. Yes, as a professional it is about having the knowledge and skill to achieve a job and work towards future success. However, networking is an equally important part of any professional’s journey- especially a young professional. Getting to know other experts in a field of work can help a younger professional learn and discover where their career path can take them , as well as give them advice on how to get there. With that in mind, hosting a networking event for your association could be the key to increased engagement with younger members.

We’ve written in the past about the importance of inviting a younger generation into your association. Bringing in younger members generates diversity within your membership, and diversity leads to a lot of valuable benefits. For example, organizations with high diversity and inclusion ratings have 57% better collaboration, 19% greater staff retention, 40% improvement on market share, and 70% more success in new markets.

So, you want to attract and engage a younger audience, and you know young professionals value networking opportunities. Have you ever considered hosting a networking event? If you’re looking to host your first networking event, or if you’re looking to enhance your current strategy, don’t worry. We’re giving you 3 practical networking event ideas for young professionals.

1. Take guidance from other successful events

Chances are you’ve heard of the large tech, music, and film conference know as SXSW. It’s an event that brings in a huge crowd of audiences of all ages- mostly of the younger generation. With so much success, it’s easy for associations to look to SXSW in envy. How can you recreate a similar event that will drive up your younger membership numbers? Is there a way to bring that success to your own networking events?

The answer is: Yes. If your association can study and adopt similar practices used by bigger networking events, it can help grab the attention of young professionals looking for networking opportunities.

Take a look at what SXSW does to promote networking. It hosts meetups, lounges, and parties. It even offer a variety of online forums with specific topics that registrants can use to network on the go.

Consider hosting similar meetups with your association. This can be at a scheduled venue, or even somewhere more casual like a restaurant or bar. A very popular networking venue with young professionals seems to be a casual bar setting. You can also offer online networking options as well. Open up channels of communication within your association’s benefits for young members to chat with experienced professionals.

Another great networking event to help inspire your association is Inbound. Inbound is an event for people looking to enhance their inbound marketing and content creation skills. It brings in inbound marketing specialists from all over the place, allowing them to connect and network at the event. Your association can specialize its networking events like Inbound does. Create events for specific career paths, skill sets, or anything else your members might find valuable.

By looking towards bigger networking events, your association can score insight on how to run a successful networking event. It can also help brainstorm unique new event ideas for any future plans.

2. Incorporate social media

Recently, Coachella 2018 was on the mind and lips of every Millennial. And why wouldn’t it be? With its fun fashion and amazing musical acts plastered on every social media channel, it’s hard to escape. So what is Coachella doing right as an event? It’s allowing its attendees to interact through social media.

Events that provide their attendees with the proper social media interaction have a great chance of bringing in more of an audience and get them engaged. Creating and promoting a hashtag for your networking event is a great start. According to Buddy Media, tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement than those without. By including a hashtag in your event posts, you have the opportunity to attract twice as many viewers.

Create your hashtag based around the content of your networking event. If you’re hosting a networking event at a coffee shop, you can do something like: #coffeeandconnections. Or, you can go simple and meaningful by just making a hashtag based around your association’s name and the type of event. Take ASAE’s hashtag for their annual event for example: #ASAE18. Once you have a killer hashtag, you have to make sure people use it. Create promotion for your event hashtag. You can send it out to event attendees via email, or you can even introduce the hashtag within one of your association’s newsletters.

You also want to make sure to encourage event attendees to post content on their social media. Providing photo opportunities and interactive activities at your event can help people bring out the cameras and capture some seriously valuable photo content. Incorporating social media into your networking event isn’t just a fun add on to get people engaged. It can also be a great engagement strategy that will attract more members in the future.

3. Spark conversation with fun icebreakers

Yes, the icebreaker. It’s a well-known tactic for networking that can often come with some hesitation. But icebreaker activities don’t have to be uncomfortable. There are plenty of easy and fun ways to spark up a conversation between people and get the ball rolling at a networking event.

One great way to start conversation between event attendees is to create an extended information name card. What does this entail? An extended info name card includes other information about an event attendee other than the necessary name and profession. You can include fun facts like favorite music, number of pets, or anything else that might spark up interest between attendees.

Information like this can be collected once attendees register for your event. You can include it within the form fill section. Or, you can send out a fun fact sheet for registrants to fill out before the event starts. Include some of these facts on their name card. This way, when other attendees look for a name, they can find facts that they might relate to, making the networking process hassle-free.

Another icebreaker that can break event attendees out of their shell at a networking event is member Bingo. Chances are, you’ve played Bingo before. Everyone gets a sheet with numbered squares. If someone calls out a number that matches one on your sheet, you get to cross it off. Get a row crossed off and that’s Bingo!

You can create a similar game using general facts about your event attendees. Write down generic facts that can be easily applicable to members. You want to write things like “has ridden a horse” or “has four siblings”. Then, event attendees must find other people who fit these facts and have them sign the respective square. If a member gets Bingo using signatures, they win a prize.

Ice breakers don’t have to be uncomfortable. Your association can create fun opportunities to get the ball rolling at your next networking event.

By studying great networking events, taking their methods as examples, and incorporating new and unique activities into your own events, you can see higher event attendance and engagement from both young professionals and members in general.

Create more opportunities for your young professional members to network and enhance their career with these 3 strategies for a better networking event.