Planning Successful Networking Events

Cocktail PartyWhether courting new investors, wooing potential clients, or raising funds for a local charity, nothing gets results like an elegant evening of cocktails and good company. The cocktail party has a long tradition, and while it may have fallen out of favor for a few years it’s making a powerful comeback. A well staged cocktail party gives your guests the chance to mingle with like-minded individuals, talk shop and make deals, all while enjoying a sophisticated evening of delicious drinks and delightfully decadent hors d’oeuvres. Hosting a successful cocktail party will take some planning, but the results for your business or charity will definitely make it worth the investment.

First Things First – Choosing the Venue

The choice of venue is particularly important for a business related cocktail party. While an informal gathering of friends can be held virtually anywhere, when you are courting new investors and clients it pays to book a professional entertainment venue. Most hired venues can offer a variety of rooms and banquet halls to suit any occasion, and can work with you to match the space to the tone of your party and the size of your gathering. They should also be able to dress the room to suit either a casual or formal theme. Depending on the time of year, you may want to consider an entertainment venue that can offer a garden or arboretum. Nothing impresses like an elegant evening spent under the stars with good company and stylish cocktails.

If you are planning a particularly formal cocktail party, you may want to ask the venue’s management if they can provide valet service for your guests. This heightens the tone of the evening, and let’s your guests know right away that they are in for a classy evening.

Organizing Your Drinks Menu

The heart of any cocktail party is cocktail service, and you will want to make sure there’s professional bartenders to serve your guests throughout the evening. Oftentimes, the events venue will have bar-tending services on site, and they know the bar well and are comfortable in their setting. If the venue doesn’t have on-site bar-tending services, you will want to make sure the staff is professionally trained. Few states require bartenders to be licensed, and you want to avoid hiring an amateur who does not fully know his or her trade. Keep the following tips in mind when interviewing potential bar staff:

  • Are they trained professionals?
  • Do they have their own bar kit?
  • What is their past experience, and can they supply references?
  • How extensive is their knowledge of mixology, and can they accommodate a wide range of tastes?
  • Have they taken a responsible bar-tending course, and do they know when to serve a guest and when to cut them off? (This is important. You want your guests to have a good time, but you also want them to stay safe.)

Don’t Forget the Food

You can’t serve cocktails without a selection of tasty hors d’oeuvres to accompany them. Again, the event planner at your hired venue may be able to offer suggestions as to reputable caterers that they have worked with in the past. In many cases, the venue will have on-site catering staff who can be engaged for the evening to provide an outstanding array of appetizers for your guests. You will want to work closely with the caterer to design a suitable menu for the evening. Take the chef’s suggestions on board, and rely on their experience to help you create a memorable selection of hors d’oeurvres that will satisfy your guests. You may also consider having the chef and head bartender work together to pair a featured cocktail with a signature appetizer. It’s a good way to add a bit of originality to the evening, and will give your guests a shared talking point.

Cocktail parties are coming back into fashion, particularly as opportunities for business and social networking. They provide and elegant solution to making new business contacts and forging new fiscal relationships. The next time you are planning an event to woo new clients or entertain prospective investors, consider what a sophisticated evening of cocktails and conversation can do for you and your organization.

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