Let’s face it, your standard networking event is not always the bash of the year (gasp!). More often than not, these events can cause more anxiety than opportunity, and leave guests feeling less “connected” than before.
So, how can you attempt to solve that? What should you consider when planning a networking event to ensure guests get excited, feel relaxed, and have fun?
Small details = large impact
The phrase “Surprise and Delight” wasn’t coined by the staff at Zappos for nothing. For many startups (and large companies alike), these values are now a core principle for customer satisfaction and staff happiness.
Are you hosting an event on behalf of a design firm? Select short quotes from design innovators and display them around the room – printed on cups, projected on various walls, posted in elevators and bathrooms.
Surprises like these keep attention levels high and are likely to be shared via social channels throughout the evening (#yay).
Humor never hurts
Plain and simple: humor has a ton of positive benefits. Not only does laughing create cute little eye wrinkles, but it can also reduce stress, relax your muscles, build credibility, strengthen relationships, and so on.
Have an office pup? Compile a “best-of” photo series and project a live slideshow: Walter-the-dog wearing Jenny’s baseball cap, sitting in your boss’s porsche, or eating his favorite stapler chew toy.
Fun fact: cute animals evoke smiling and conversation between strangers. (Just ask our friends at Buzzfeed.)
Before you begin planning, do a quick walk-through of the venue and snap a few pics. Flip over pillows, peek up stairways and down dark hallways. Find anything fun? Review the photos carefully and think of ways to maximize the entire space.
Areas that appear awkward could potentially be converted into an inviting lounge, a photobooth area, or a cozy hammock station. SXSW is a great example of your not-so-standard hammock takeover.
Keep comfort in mind, as we all appreciate a place to sit and decompress, right? Unique chairs, benches, bean bags, Mid-Century couches, vintage trunks – you name it.
Now more than ever, communities crave (and are impressed by) the act of “thinking local” and supporting small businesses to strengthen local relationships and long-term sustainability.
Lacking artistic chops? Look into hiring an artist to design a large art piece or kick-off a live graffiti performance as guests arrive. One fun example: American Express stepped up their creative game with “Shop Small Market” (artwork on display) for Airbnb Open LA.
Additionally, consider placing catering orders through boutique suppliers. Think about building a “refuel station” where hungry bodies can quickly grab coffee and health bars from their favorite local brands. A few we like: Bi-Rite Catering, Mammoth Bars, Blue Bottle Coffee, Juice Shop, and Fort Point Beer.
Sounds easy, right? We’re talking signage, lighting, furniture, color palette, etc. Personalize the space, be intentional and communicate your brand strategically.
Combine all of these steps with advanced planning, strategic marketing, and precise follow through, and you’ll surely execute a top-notch event that leaves guests smiling.
Ta-da! Poof! Huzzah! Cue: applause and praise from your boss.