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I have done two icebreakers proceeding a network course or lecture.

1) First have everyone introduce themselves. Then have them sit or stand in a circle. Using a ball of yarn start with one person and ask them to throw the ball to another person whom they think they may be similar to (similarities do not have to be from the introductions but could be that they r both wearing blue shirts or brown shoes or came to the meeting late, etc). Then you have a network from the passing of the ball, and it will get people to laugh and the ball will drop and someone will do something silly. The rule is that you are making a closed network- everyone has to be included, so no isolates! So even in the end if someone cannot come up with a reason "to connect" then you interject and say you are both working for this company, or you are both drinking coffee. The activity serves for interaction, the yarn network serves as a metaphor for the topic and then you can explain (pending the audience) the concept of homophily.

2) If they already know each other or work together you may ask them to do a short network survey beforehand. You can ask about formal relationships, or day to day communication, or even map an email network if you are allowed that data. Then put together some network visualizations of the group. Then for the actual ice breaker, put them in groups, ideally not the clusters you find from the network mapping but those that do not know each other and ask them to work together and explain the visualizations. What could they represent, what do they find interesting or striking. This can be a sensitive activity pending the network data you collect and the dynamics of the group, so be careful. Insure that these networks will not be used by anyone, no management, etc... but are just for fun. You may also want to consider if you use labels, really depends on the results the dynamics of the group (as in if everyone is connected, and there are no isolates and if they are generally friendly towards each other, unless you want to measure negative ties of course:)!). 

Good luck.

Julie Birkholz
Postdoctoral Researcher 
Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities 
University Ghent, Ghent, Belgium 
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Jessica Methot [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 3:47 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SOCNET] Network(ing) icebreaker

Hi all,

Does anyone have recommendations for unique and/or fun icebreakers (for a group of professionals) that incorporate or are informed by network concepts? I've been asked to lead a workshop where I will be discussing the general topic of Managing Organizational Networks, and the organizers have asked for an icebreaker event as an opener. I'd love something that helps transition into the presentation topics.

Thank you in advance,

Jessica R. Methot, PhD
Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management
Rutgers University | School of Management and Labor Relations
Janice H. Levin Bldg., Room 209
94 Rockafeller Road | Livingston Campus | Piscataway, NJ 08854
office: (848) 445-1112 | email: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Twitter: @ProfMethot

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