Eyes on the Party

Events can be one of the best ways to meet and connect new people to your organization. Cultivation events allow a new person to learn more about the organization in a low pressure environment. Often we pack our event programs so full it can be hard to actually talk to our guests.

I love meeting new people and learning their philanthropic and community interests. However, one area I’m not as skilled at is greeting everyone. I’d rather have an intentional conversation with a few people than just say a quick hello to everyone, but that is not always what is needed. The very best time to engage a new person is when they first arrive. We all feel a little funny when we enter a room of people we do not know, and a good welcome makes us feel comfortable.

Before your event has started, have a system worked out with your staff to always have someone by the door to welcome and take jackets. If you are that person, then make sure you are able to stay by the door. Be willing to pause a conversation, mentioning you will be back in a couple of minutes, so you can greet each guest.

I am finding the ability to keep a pulse on the party to be an art that I’m still learning. What techniques work for you? We have all met people who do a spectacular job at this. I’d love to hear any good examples.

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3 Responses to Eyes on the Party

  1. Great point, Jason! I’m a extrovert and know a good number of people in our community, but feel a wave of relief when walking into an event and seeing a familiar face greeting me at the door. If the greeter doesn’t know me, but can figure out they know of me or my company from my name tag, they can say something welcoming and point out someone I do know. Usually, when I run an event, I go over the invite list with my firm and we make sure as many guests as possible are greeted and spoken to. A quick hello is fine in these situations; guests expect it.

  2. Agreed – a quick hello is usually fine. However, it’s rarely possible to stand by the door for the whole of check-in. There may be other demands on our time as the event gets going. If it is a seated event, it’s a great idea to go from table to table and thank people for coming. Your table list will let you know who you’re talking to if you don’t know them personally. Try to pull something out that addresses them specifically. For example, some Sony execs came to our dinner in 2008, invited by our honoree. So I said something like this: “Great to see you here – I know our honoree appreciates your support. That gold sponsorship made a real difference. And, hey, you must all be excited about that new Sony Reader!” It can start a conversation or at least make the encounter memorable.

    You can also empower your board members, if they are attending. Give them a table list and ask them to schmooze five people. Provide a little background on each of the five and let them go to it.

    Best of luck with your 2010 events!

  3. […] A Small Change… Eyes on the Party A brief reminder from Jason at A Small Change on how to get the most from networking at your […]

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