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Holidays: A Time to Be Social

December 01, 2012

Section News

In general, you want to make sure you have a social component to every meeting, whether it’s a plant tour, a technical talk, education day, or other format you’ve implemented. For instance, you could have 30-60 minutes of social time before a technical talk or the dinner before/after the meeting.

Try new ways to get everyone involved in the social hour. For instance, incorporate “First Friends” – people designated at every event to help out first timers and/or make that connection with them, and introduce them to members with similar interests. Each meeting, you should have a few people signed up to do this, so that each new person has a solid connection. In addition, at any event, you can try out targeted networking – where you gather folks together based on their area of interest to get them talking. To start, label each table with different industries – i.e. MWF, bearings, etc. and then ask participants to sit at the tables that match their work. Or, you can have them sit at tables based on topics they want to discuss – i.e. recent regulations, new designs, etc.

When hosting a purely social event, you want to consider your audience, and offer a variety of options from event to event. Mix in traditionally successful event formats and throw in some new formats to meet the changing needs of your membership. Some events that have been successful in the past include: golf outings (which can also be used for fundraising) sporting events, theater, comedy clubs, and river cruises. Some new types of events, formats, and locations to try are listed below:

  • Movie Night For a movie night, you can provide a showing of a movie that’s just come out, or you can go to the theater as a group. When going as a group, you can either see the same movie, or see different movies. Get together after at a restaurant to vote for the best showing. 
  • Cook-Out Host at a member’s house, and incorporate a chili cook-off or some other cooking/baking competition for added fun.
  • Holiday/Seasonal Parties In the summer, you can try a cookout or you can schedule a hike, bike ride, 5K or other outdoors activity. Bonfires are also nice in the summer, maybe even after a technical meeting.  Luaus can also be fun in the summer.
  • Casino Night This event could serve as a fundraiser and feature sponsors, or it could be a group visit to a local casino.
  • Wine/Beer Tastings Try a wine or beer tasting at a local restaurant or brewery, or try something like “Bottles & Brushes” where participants get a painting lesson while enjoying a nice glass of wine, and they can take home their artwork at the end of the evening.
  • Game Night Get to know your members better by having everyone bring their favorite game, and mix up the groups. You can have prizes or awards for those who win or lose the most, or other creative awards that have no basis on winning or losing.  
  • For Foodies Host a dinner party or cooking class. If you’re ambitious and like to plan, try out a progressive dinner where members go from house to house, and each house hosts a different course.
  • Sporting Events Have a March Madness competition and viewing of the final game (you could even attach prizes to the winning bracket), or you could host any kind of game viewing in your venue, similar to a Super Bowl party.
  • Happy Hour Find a local bar with some great atmosphere (and deals on appetizers and drinks during certain hours) and invite all your members to attend. This will be a time set aside for creating connections and networking, as members have nothing else to do but talk to each other. This is also popular with early careerists as they may want to eat dinner with family and then attend. This is a quick opportunity to network!

Have ideas to share with the group, or want to tell us how one of these went for your section? Submit information to Kara Sniegowski at klemar@stle.org or by calling (847) 825-5536.

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