Networking, as well as teambuilding, is about establishing contact between participants in a trustful way. Your task is to make the process as easy and smooth as possible.
... if you, from the beginning, provide clear name tags for everyone. Especially on a networking meeting is it essential that participants can see each other's’ names. Make sure to write these names, so that they are capitalized and clear. This is one way to give participants the best possible conditions for getting to know new people.
Additionally, make sure that it is legitimate for participants to pose questions to each other, thus creating the basis of new relationships. This is especially needed in the beginning of the meeting. Consider facilitating a session wherein participants talk together in small groups for at least 3 minutes. Ideally, participants should discuss simple things, and it is fine that they discuss things that are not related to the subject of the meeting. The participants can, for example, discuss what has been the greatest/worst/funniest/best experience in their lives. However, this requires you to take the initiative to engage participants.
20 minutes in the beginning of the meeting.
Badges and if needed, colorful pens and markers.
Perhaps offer participants some questions for inspiration, such as issues with an edge. Good topics would make participantsd wonder, be fascinated or even laugh.