As pc/nametag's in-house Word Wizard, Meaghan creates educational content that brings people together and drives meaningful conversations in the events industry.
“What do you love most about your job?” 💬 I’ve asked this question of many of my colleagues over the years. It's no coincidence that the most common answer I get is “I love the people.”
Employees who feel connected with one another are less likely to feel isolated at work, and more likely to feel empowered, valued, driven, and motivated. In fact, one study even found that employee networking can reduce the likelihood of turnover by 140%.
To improve your organization’s employee engagement efforts, providing networking opportunities is a must. Check out this list of my favorite networking activity examples to help people in your organization build relationships with one another.
Internal Networking Activities and Examples
Internal networking is the process of establishing interpersonal connections within the workplace. This is typically done through planned social events and employee engagement activities between colleagues. Some internal networking event ideas include:
1. Host internal networking events once a month.
Internal networking events aren’t just fun; they’re also a great excuse to help employees interact in ways they may not be able to during a busy workday. These events can help employees build interpersonal connections with people both inside and outside their immediate departments.
Fun Employee Appreciation Party Ideas:
- Team Building Workshops: Host interactive team-building workshops or activities that encourage collaboration, problem-solving, and communication skills.
- Office Olympics: Organize a fun-filled day of friendly competitions and games that allow employees to showcase their talents and build camaraderie.
- Themed Parties: Plan themed parties, such as a costume party, decade-themed party, or holiday-themed celebration, to add excitement and creativity to the gathering.
- Potluck Lunches: Arrange potluck lunches where employees bring in their favorite dishes to share and enjoy a diverse and delicious meal together.
- Volunteer Activities: Organize a day of volunteering where employees can give back to the community as a team, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
- Escape Room Challenge: Take the team to an escape room facility where they must work together to solve puzzles and escape within a set time limit.
- Outdoor Adventure: Plan a day of outdoor activities like a lunchtime walk, a picnic in the park, or a sports tournament to encourage physical activity and relaxation.
- Movie Night: Host a movie night at the office or an outdoor venue, complete with popcorn and snacks, for a relaxing and entertaining evening.
- Karaoke Party: Set up a karaoke machine and let employees showcase their singing talents in a fun and lighthearted atmosphere.
- Game Night: Arrange a game night with board games, card games, or video games to encourage friendly competition and teamwork.
- Lunch and Learn Sessions: Host educational lunch and learn sessions where employees can share their expertise or invite guest speakers to discuss relevant topics.
- Bring Your Pet to Work Day: Dedicate a day for employees to bring their furry friends to the office, promoting a stress-free and enjoyable atmosphere.
- Creative Workshop: Arrange a creative workshop like painting, crafting, or cooking, encouraging employees to explore their artistic side.
- Talent Show: Organize a talent show where employees can showcase their talents, from singing and dancing to magic tricks and stand-up comedy.
- Office Awards Ceremony: Host an awards ceremony to recognize and appreciate outstanding employees in various categories.
- Virtual Trivia Night: Set up a virtual trivia night, testing employees' knowledge on a wide range of topics and fostering friendly competition.
- Employee Appreciation Week: Dedicate a week to celebrate and recognize employees' hard work with various activities and surprises.
- Innovation Day: Hold an innovation day where employees can pitch creative ideas and work together to solve real company challenges.
These informal employee gatherings create a relaxed atmosphere, making it easier for employees to engage in authentic conversations and discover common interests outside of work-related tasks. As a result, employees feel more connected, valued, and motivated, ultimately leading to a positive work environment and improved overall job satisfaction.
On August 17, the pc/nametag team gathers for "National Badge Ribbon Day" festivities.
2. Schedule coffee chats or lunchtime networking groups.
Meeting new people can be daunting, especially for new employees who are not yet acquainted with other people in the workplace. Give employees the chance to meet new people by randomly assigning pairs of participants every two weeks or once a month.
Employees who sign up for this activity can sit down for coffee, have lunch, or take a lunchtime walk to catch up. “Buddy” meetings can also take place in groups for those who prefer a larger gathering.
The relaxed setting of a coffee chat, lunch, or a leisurely lunchtime walk provides a casual and friendly atmosphere for employees to get to know each other on a personal level. You'll also help build bridges across different departments and promote a sense of camaraderie throughout the organization.
3. Create fun channels on Slack or Teams.
In the age of remote working, office chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams have quickly become the backbone of employee interactions in the workplace. Take full advantage of these tools by creating groups and networking channels for employees to use.
This way, they have a dedicated space to ask questions, create discussions, share information, and post useful content for others to see. Team channels are great for non-work-related discussions too! Many employees find joy in connecting with others over shared passions and interests.
Fun Slack Channel Ideas:
- Pet Pals Channel: Share photos of employees and their furry, feathery, or scaly friends.
- City Channel: Discuss events and happenings in your city that others might find interesting.
- Foodies Channel: Drop your favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
- Workout Warriors Channel: Create peer-led gatherings for lunchtime walks or after-work workouts.
- Gamer Channel: Share gamer tags and plan after-work video game parties.
- Friday Funday Channel: Share jokes, memes, and light-hearted messages to share positivity.
- Book Worm Channel: Gather avid readers and find recommendations for book club.
- Skill Swap Channel: Share industry-related tips and trends for others to learn.
- Travel Tales Channel: Share travel experiences, photos, tips, and destination ideas.
- Mindful Monday Channel: Share mindfulness tips and positive notes for the week.
- Trivia Channel: Answer trivia questions to gain points for your team.
- Cheers for Peers Channel: Uplift coworkers and share positive highlights from the team.
4. Start a professional development book club.
Looking for a way to help employees learn more about their fields and sharpen their skills? Start a book club that revolves around professional development books and skill-building. This way, employees have an outlet for discussing new ideas and improving current processes in their departments.
A book club is also a great way to get employees who share common interests together for meaningful conversation and continuous learning. Plus, they’re easy to do, whether in person or virtually!
External Networking Activities and Examples
External networking is the process of developing interpersonal connections with people outside your immediate work environment. This type of networking often happens among people who share similar interests, job roles, or industries. External networking is an ideal way to gather advice and share support, both inside and outside the workplace. Some ideas for external networking include:
5. Create an industry-related discussion group on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Facebook and LinkedIn groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections with one another.
When creating a group, focus on a topic that many people in your industry care about. Keep the conversation educational in nature and encourage group members to post their insights on discussion threads. This networking strategy can also help your organization build credibility and trust with consumers.
6. Send attendees to industry events and workshops.
Establishing connections with other business professionals can be as simple as attending a local industry-related event, gathering, or class (whether in-person or online). Many of these events are free or low-cost and give employees the opportunity to learn new information, meet like-minded individuals, and jumpstart their professional creativity.
Finding local industry events for employees to attend is easier than you think. Here are some steps to help you find networking events for employees.
How to Find Industry Networking Events:
- Online Search: Start by conducting an online search using relevant keywords from your industry, city, or region, and the type of event you are looking for (e.g., conferences, workshops, seminars).
- Industry Associations and Organizations: Check out industry-specific associations, chambers of commerce, or professional organizations in your area for local events.
- Event Aggregator Websites: Look for sites that curate and list local events across different industries. Examples of these websites include Eventbrite, Meetup, and Eventful.
- Social Media: Follow industry influencers, organizations, and event organizers on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to stay in the know on upcoming events.
- Local Business Magazines and News Outlets: Check local business magazines and news outlets for event listings, as they often cover and promote important industry events in the area.
- University and College Calendars: Universities and colleges often host industry-related workshops, seminars, and conferences. Check their event calendars for opportunities.
- Networking Groups: Join local networking groups or attend industry-specific meetups. These groups often share information about relevant events that might be of interest to your employees.
- Ask Industry Peers: Reach out to colleagues or peers in the industry and ask if they know of any upcoming events that your employees can attend.
Once you find potential events, make sure to assess their relevance, value, and potential benefits for your employees. Consider factors such as the event's agenda, speakers, topics covered, location, and cost.
Depending on your company's resources and policies, you can then encourage employees to attend these events, either by providing financial support or flexible work arrangements to accommodate their participation.
The pc/nametag team gathers for ice cream after a UW E-Business Consortium (UWEBC) event in Madison, Wisconsin.
6. Host a happy hour event for local business networking.
Hosting a professional happy hour can be a great bonding experience not only for your employees but also for other business professionals in your community. This is an opportunity for people to gather, relieve stress, and “talk shop” without the dynamics of work getting in the way of being able to connect with one other. Done right, a happy hour can be a real crowd-pleaser and connect individuals in a more relaxed environment.Looking to get creative with your professional happy hour? Send attendees a “virtual happy hour kit” in the mail. This way, they’ll have everything they need to unwind after a long day of meetings and enjoy time chatting with other business professionals.
7. Offer employees the option to sign up for a conference.
Offering employees the option to sign up for a conference can be a game-changer for their professional growth and networking opportunities. Conferences provide a unique platform for employees to immerse themselves in their industry, gain valuable insights from experts, and expand their knowledge base.
Attending these events also allows employees to stay aware of cutting-edge trends, emerging technologies, and best practices in their field. As conference enthusiasts ourselves, we love that events have the power to foster a sense of community among attendees, as they get to meet and interact with like-minded individuals who share their passion for the industry.
By empowering employees to participate in these enriching experiences, organizations can ultimately foster a more knowledgeable, motivated, and competitive workforce. Want to convince your boss to let you attend an event? Utilize our free conference justification letter to get started.
More Networking Activities and Ideas for Employees
Networking initiatives will look different from one organization to another depending on your goals Depending on your budget and needs. The main goal is to make resources available to help employees feel connected — both with one another and with individuals outside your organization.
The pc/nametag team is passionate about helping professionals learn, grow, and share big ideas. If you enjoyed this article, don't miss out on our other great career development blogs below!
- Employee Engagement Ideas: Top Strategies to Use at Work
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- Fun Office Games for Team Building and Fun
- Virtual Rewards and Recognition Ideas to Celebrate Your Team