Many businesses are driving into 2017 with full force, preparing in advance for success for every aspect of their operation – including business meetings. Meetings are, after all, one of many business strategies with a purpose to encourage connections both within and outside of the organization. In fact, every portion of a meeting schedule can impact how much networking occurs, including meal times.
Be honest, when a person is in their comfort zone they will likely stay there. At large events it is easy for individuals to stay with groups of people they know. It’s human nature. To encourage networking, it’s important for corporate clients to find ways to break individuals away from these cliques. Food stations or buffet service can serve this purpose.
For either of these menu styles, most groups break apart to find food they are most interested in. It might seem trifling, but food is a universal commonality between attendees and can be a conversation starter. Cliques can also be dispersed by avoiding table-based meals. Instead of hors d’oeuvres being passed, displaying them through the area requires attendees walk around and mingle.
Networking conversations have to start somewhere and food works well as a jumping off point – especially when the menu includes unique items. These food items could be fresh twists on old classics or something new for your attendees to love. For example, we know many that love a great deviled egg, but what about avocado deviled eggs? Spice things up with the unexpected to evoke conversation.
A long day of meetings and collaboration can make networking a little lackluster. For many people, a snack or beverage can provide enough energy and refreshment to save a conversation. If you have a morning event, provide a range of energizing foods and beverages.
If the event is all-day, be sure that an afternoon option is available as well such as fresh fruit, create-your-own trail mix station, or chips and dips. Keeping attendees full throughout the day is vital for their brains to work at full capacity, improving the overall mood and encourages pleasant and meaningful conversation.
Tie-In to Meeting
Even if the focus of the event is networking, there will likely be a keynote speaker, seminar or other aspect to the meeting. One of the best ways to ensure that the information conveyed in these meetings becomes part of your attendees’ conversations is by tying it in throughout the day.
The tie-in can be as simple or as creative as the business wants, as long as it will make the guest think. For example, if a keynote speaker talking about ‘staying afloat’ in the business world, could tie in donuts, cookies or breads that take on the ‘life preserver’ shape.