Business after hours events can be very popular if there’s a good mix of networking. If not, it’s hard to keep the energy going. If it’s the same people month after month, you need to find a way to bring in new blood. These creative ideas from other chamber pros could help.
Creative Ideas for Increasing the Energy at Your Business After Hours
Make It Fun
At the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce, they often bring in a photo booth to increase the fun factor. Their Business Development Executive, Christine Puma reports: “We’ve brought in a photo booth, sponsored by one of our local radio station partners, one we have a mini trade show format, and our holiday BA5, we have live acoustic music.” Keeping varied but consistent activities makes it a different event each month but also keeps people interested because they look forward to the different formats.
Cost-savings idea: If you don’t have money for a photo booth, ask for a sponsor. If that’s not a possibility, you can make inexpensive props using ideas from Pinterest or talk to your local promotional marketing company about samples they might have on hand.
In order to ensure everyone has time to meet the “room,” the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce introduced a speed networking activity at their last business after hours event. They found everyone having a good time at their breakfast meeting.
Pro tip: a great emcee can add a lot to this type of function. On occasion, you do have to play the heavy in order to get people to move on.
Make It Industry Specific
At the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Stuart Harrison shared, “We changed ours from Business After Hours to PBX – Peterborough Business Exchange. Each month we partner with another group or sector and invite them to the PBX. It could be a neighboring Chamber, a women’s networking group, homebuilders or real estate association, etc. Or just a theme such as the not-for-profit sector. It has increased our number significantly, opened us up to potential new members, allows our members to meet fresh faces each month etc.”
What have you done to change up your business after hours format? Share your ideas with the group.