There are so many great reasons for you to throw a killer business party. For starters:
1. Human connection is a powerful tool in business development, even through increased technology. Socializing with your potential clients or business partners (in person!) develops a strong bond.
2. Hosting an event generates a buzz, whether it's via social media or within your industry. It gives your brand yet another reason to be talked about before, during, and after the event.
3. It's an impactful platform to release company news or products. By giving "insider" status to your network or clients, you'll likely cause them to be more emotionally invested in your news.
No doubt throwing a well-timed event is a good idea. But let's look at the flip side....
...many people hate "networking" events because they can be extremely awkward.
Almost no one wants to attend an event with people they don't know - and they can't fathom how to walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation. Half the time, we go to events because we know we need to network, but really, we're looking for a way to excuse ourselves early, get into our jammies, and order a pizza. This is because most corporate events do not go the extra mile to set guests up for success. Sure, they are usually hosted at a nice venue and there's wine, but very little is done to break the ice or inspire a conversation.
In order to get your guests excited enough to haul themselves over to your venue after a long day at the office, you need to show what's in it for them. Set them up to have a great time. MAKE them successful at networking. When they bond with other party-goers and generate a great memory - they will always remember you in an extremely positive light. They'll also talk about it to their friends and essentially become your marketers.
Ben Hindman is the CEO and co-founder of Splash, an event marketing platform that allows users to manage and market their event, analyze its success, and optimize for the next one. They have helped brands such as Thrillist, Spotify, and Sundance pull off major events....so they know a thing or two about being the hostus with the mostus.
Talking to Ben, I learned that "surpriseology" is a thing in event planning. When used properly, it can elevate your brand in a highly authentic way by generating loyal fans.
Here are Ben's top 5 tips on how companies can inject a little surprise & delight into their events (and make people actually WANT to go to their party):
Change up the lighting.
Events are like a story, so use everything you can do influence the evolution of that story. When the party is really getting going, celebrate the moment by dimming the lights and listen to your guests "ooh" and "ahh." Surprise pipe and drape around the dance floor is an awesome way to shift the surroundings. I've also had success with moving trees.
Remember: Moving instruments are better than stationary instruments.
If your venue space allows it, try surprising guests with an impromptu musical performance. One time I unleashed a marching band into an event. Another time I had an Irish step step dance team battle a breakdance team at a St. Paddy's Day party. And for a rooftop mixer, I surprised guests with a capoeira dance team. At one of their office parties this summer, MKG brought out the New Jersey Nets senior hip hop dance team.
Remember: high-energy, surprise performances are always the most Instagrammed parts of the night. Do it if you can.
Create opportunities for guests to co-create the event.
This tip comes from my surprise guru: Tania Luna, co-founder and surprisologist at Surprise Industries. (If you haven't watched her TED talk, drop everything right now and watch it.) Tania recommends having a ton of opportunities for guests to have an impact on the event. "Have them draw on the wall, or take turns DJ'ing," she recommends. I couldn't agree more. Participatory events generate stronger memories.
Give people something to do together.
They may not say it, but your guests always want an excuse to bond with each other. It may be as simple as letting them pet a puppy together. Or, as Tania recommends: Invite guests to have their photo taken on a trampoline. (Genius.) My favorite example of this is Wok & Wine, a collaborative eating event. The wine is the same (so everyone can pour it for each other), and the food is eat-with-your-hands shrimp. It's a great bonding experience.
Give digital high-fives before, during, and after every event.
Choose a few lucky RSVPs and high-five them on Twitter before the event with a funny GIF. (GIPHY's "dance" section is a goldmine.) Digital high-fives amp up the anticipatory excitement and is the perfect way to surprise guests before they even step inside in the door. Here's a great example.
As you're thinking about planning your own event, here is Ben's food for thought: "While there are a million and one ways to surprise and delight people at an event, you have to ask yourself: What are they going to go home and talk about?"