I’ve been to a number of conferences and have always found it difficult to walk up to people that I don’t know and introduce myself. It’s just not something that comes natural to me. And I’ve found that this typically isn’t a strength of other people in the IT community.
When we were planning our recent event, a full day event similar to SQL Saturday but on a Friday, I wanted to add something that got people to meet people that they didn’t know and start some networking.
Lara Rubbelke (@SQLGal) suggested that we try doing a bingo card. It had been used for a recent event she had attended and it seemed like a good idea. And fit the concept I was thinking of – getting lots of people to talk to strangers and get to know people outside their typical bubble.
To set this up, we put together a word document that looked like a Bingo card with 12 squares. The purpose was for each attendee to find someone that matched a square and get their initials. We used the following items on our card.
- Attended DBA Track Session
- Attended Developer Track Session
- Attended BI Track Session
- SQL Server 2008 in production
- SQL Server version prior to 2005 in production
- Presented PASSMN SQL Summit Session
- 1+ TB database in production
- Passed SQL Server 2005/2008 Certification
- Service Broker in Production
- Blogs on SQL Server
- PASSMN LinkedIn Member
- Microsoft Employee
- SQL Server MVP
- Used SQL Server 4.1
Yes, this guys was at our event.
Instead of just using survey’s for giveaways at the end of the event, we opted to use the Networking Bingo card to drive people to try to complete the card. This turned out to be huge. People were chatting and networking and some people managed to care all of the squares on the bingo card before the first break.
The real payoff was the amount of networking that we had between the sessions. Instead of sitting at the tables waiting for the next session, most people were up and about meeting and talking to people. Some people came up and mentioned how much they enjoyed a reason to network for a change.
It was awesome!
I’ve attached our bingo card, so feel free to use it for your own event.