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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (847) 825-5536.