Summertime offers a great opportunity for coworkers and clients to gather in a social setting. Outdoor parties and picnics create a fun and relaxed environment where individuals can come together and share ideas. What begins as a party can become a chance to network with others in a way you couldn’t normally in the workplace.
Having an outdoor get-together doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Just get creative with the decorations or theme, have everyone bring a dish, and you’ve got a party! Now that you have everyone there, how do you get them to network? Most people don’t like having name tags at a casual event at someone’s home so try these easy steps:
- Welcome your guests as they arrive and introduce them to the other guests. If there are too many guests to introduce all, then pick someone that has something in common with this guest (i.e. same profession or hobbies). Remember, they all know you but not necessarily each other. For networking to be effective you need to partner people with someone they don’t know.
- Make sure all your guests have a drink of some kind. This enhances the relaxed feeling especially if you have a special drink that promotes the theme (i.e. margaritas, daiquiris, special bourbons or beers). The drinks do not need to be alcoholic and serving them in fun cups adds to the festive atmosphere! Set up tables in the backyard with lights and tissue lanterns. It’s an easy, festive atmosphere that allows the party to continue way after dark!
- Fun food gets people talking too. Simple finger food appetizers make it easy for guests to chat with a larger number of people at the event. A buffet allows everyone to sample all the delicious dishes available and a great conversation may start while waiting in line, as well.
- Here’s the best way to network during a party…games! Playing group games like croquet, scavenger hunts, and team relays get people to work together and the laughter starts! Once the games begin, the competitive spirit is in the air! When people work together, even during games, they tend to ask questions and before you know it – a contact has been made. This event also gives you a frame of reference when you later meet in a business setting. Make sure it was a positive experience!
Dave Clark of NRG Networks has some great additional tips for building networks. He says that the main purpose of networking is to build friends in business. Friends help and support each other in business and in life. Your attitude is of key importance to your success with networking.
People naturally gravitate towards others with common interests or acquaintances. It’s helpful to use these life events to extend your contact base. At Summit Executive Suites we try to create an environment of a single office instead of many individual ones. Several times a year we coordinate special lunches or group activities to encourage the clients to meet and talk with each other. Many of these contacts have developed, not just as business associates, but as lifelong friends. Our clients really seem to like the difference, we think you will too. Come in for a tour and see for yourself what makes the Summit Executive Suites unique.