Corporate networking events aren’t typically known for being the most exciting parties in the world. They are oftentimes a bit drab, leaving many participants wondering why they bothered going. No one wants to spend all that money only to have it be a flop. Simply hanging out at the bar shooting the breeze with other business owners and corporate leaders won’t cut it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to throw a memorable summer corporate event. Consider the following factors to ensure it’s fun and an exciting networking opportunity for all the guests. Successful events can help build a workplace culture people find inviting. You want to create time for your people to make meaningful connections.
Consider the venue.
Indoor venues have the benefit of being temperature-controlled, and that can make for a nice experience. A ballroom at a local hotel or event center is your typical indoor venue.
But why not consider hosting a networking event somewhere different? A local art museum or an indoor botanical garden are a couple of examples of unique indoor venues that can make your corporate event stand out.
It’s summer, and it’s probably hot if you’re in the northern hemisphere, but it’s still possible to hold an outdoor event. Maybe host an event at a winery or by the beach. Use quality event canopies to create spaces for people to gather and stay out of the sun. Your networking event can easily be turned into a fun and festive summer gathering when you hold it outdoors in the evening as well. An outdoor networking event can be a big hit with good lighting, tables, food, drinks, and maybe even a speaker or two.
Have a backup plan for outdoor events.
Weather is unpredictable and fickle. You’ll want to be sure you have a location or backup date planned in the event of rain or in some cases, extreme, unexpected heat. No one wants to be outdoors when it’s 110 degrees. Make a plan, but then make another plan just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
How will you keep pests away during an outdoor event?
Evening events guarantee one thing. There will be pests.
Whether you’re fighting mosquitoes or hordes of beetles, you’ll need a plan to keep the critters away. You can use torches and candles with citronella. Place bug zappers away from the main areas. You can even offer guests some bug spray when they arrive. For events far away from insects, count your luck! These pests can arrive anytime and without notice, but no one wants to look down and find a beetle in their drink.
Consider your event attendees.
Who are the people you plan to invite? Odds are they are business leaders, corporate bigwigs, and perhaps even assistants of the higher-ups in their respective companies. You want to understand the kind of attendees who will come to your corporate networking event so you can plan the best event possible.
Do they need an encouraging Ted Talk…or something a little more practical? Will they just be coming from work, or is this a longer event with dedicated time? You also want to consider if there will be assigned seating or if guests will choose their own seats at the event. If assigned, you’ll want to pair people strategically so that they can make meaningful networking connections.
What’s the theme for your event?
You don’t need an awkward summer luau to make your networking event memorable. But a theme can help direct the kind of food, the types of learning opportunities, and how you will encourage attendees to connect. Think of themes in terms of what you want people to take away from the event.
What’s on the menu?
People love to gather and meet around food. You’ll want to decide early on if your event will offer a full meal, or simply hors d’oeuvres. You need to decide on a cash bar or if you’ll just serve champagne to all the guests.
There are so many ways to create a delicious menu that people will enjoy. Also, think through clean menu items so that people aren’t at risk of getting sauce all over their clothes. While BBQ is delicious, ribs probably aren’t the best option unless you’re hosting an event for the meat industry.
Create event-specific invitations.
People love to get invitations. Being asked to attend an exclusive corporate networking event is a great way to create buzz and excitement. Print and mail invitations or hand them out at work. It’s much better than a digital ad or an email from HR.
Your corporate networking event planners should hand-select the guests. While you may allow individuals to RSVP with a professional plus one, it’s up to you to decide how to handle this. It’s also helpful to require RSVPs so that you get an accurate headcount.
Plan some engaging activities.
It might sound lame, but planned activities help build camaraderie amongst guests. Whether it’s a murder mystery evening, a stack of cards with questions on them, or a treasure hunt, you and your guests will enjoy a corporate networking meeting much more if there is something to do.
Planned activities should be appropriate for the venue and should also account for the professional nature of these events. It’s easy to have people work with the table they are sitting at to problem solve. They can work through a scenario together and share their findings with the rest of the group. This helps people get to know more than a person’s credentials. They get to see a different side of someone than they would if they just stood around drinking a beer.
Make sure you provide quality entertainment.
Music and comedy are both great entertainment options for a corporate networking event. Wouldn’t it be great to learn something new, mingle with potential business contacts, and then get an evening of entertainment? An event such as this is far more engaging than the typical networking meeting during happy hour at the local bar. Entertainment becomes the capstone to an evening well-spent.
Planning a memorable summer corporate event isn’t hard. Try to think a little bit outside the box. Create a few necessary contingency plans. Dive in. You can’t go wrong if you think about your audience, plan activities for them, feed them something tasty, and give them a good overall experience. Think about the kind of corporate networking event you would enjoy attending and go from there.