Sizzling Summer Business-Networking Ideas, Part 1

How will you liven up your organization's networking events this summer?
How will you liven up your organization’s networking events this summer?

Summer seems the right time to take a break from all that (firm!) handshaking and (sincere!) introduction-making at networking events, doesn’t it?

Temptation becomes expectation as the nights get longer (and your kids, off from school, get bolder): the beach, the mountains, the lake, the road, the trip.

I think maintaining a respectable business-networking dance card all year long is a challenge. But it would be grand to see an email blast or social-media post promoting a summertime event like no other.

I am not talking about a poolside wine-and-cheese event. Indeed not. I’m talking about something completely different

Around the World of Business Apps in a Night: I’m not a particularly app-happy person. Regardless of my Luddite tendencies, some in-person guidance to enhance my smartphone savvy would be helpful.

This event cries out for local IT, web-design, and digital-marketing professionals as collective sponsors.

After the initial mingling and schmoozing, attendees would enjoy a lively presentation. Together we’ll speculate which new apps might surpass current favorites like WhatsApp, Slack, Trivia Crack, AroundMe, and Camera+ (exclusive to iOS for now).

Wouldn’t it be big fun to download a business-friendly app to your phone in unison with a slew of people you know? Let’s do it…

By the End of Sake-and-Sushi Night, You’ll Say Arigato: I hold no grudge against events featuring wine (of which I readily partake) and cheese (see previous parenthetical statement). But it’s hard to deny: they no longer exude anything remotely related to cool or new.

The Eastern Hemisphere has so much to offer. Why not shake up the current business-networking paradigm and add a taste of umami to our Western palates?

With the proper business peeps as the host and sponsors, we’ll transform wine-and-cheese happy hour into sake-and-sushi night. For the more daring organizations, there’s also soju and bibimbap (from South Korea) or sato and pad Thai (from Thailand) to consider.

I challenge a local networking group or business association to sponsor a potent-potable event that’s Far East fermented!

Let’s Play Business Bingo (Bring Your Own Dot Marker): No, this isn’t an icebreaker game. I won’t ask you to fill in a bingo card preprinted with snappy statements such as “Always wears black to the office” and “Runs contests on Facebook business page.” (It’s not a bad idea for an icebreaker, but…)

This Bingo Night should be sponsored by a local business organization that already holds a gambling license. The event could double as a fund-raiser for a community nonprofit or charitable foundation.

Attendees would have the opportunity to sponsor a round of bingo. The predetermined fee should include logo placement in all marketing collateral. It goes without saying that an ad book is another potential revenue stream.

Before each round of bingo, have your attendees take turns introducing themselves and promoting their businesses. Several well-timed breaks to get up, walk around, and network all but guarantee this event’s success.

Well, that and a supernaturally entertaining bingo caller.

Mellow Meditation Night for Weary Business Brains: A tranquil setting would be ideal for an evening of mindful meditation.

The best part: Make it mandatory to wear casual, comfortable apparel that night. Who the heck wants to learn how to meditate dressed in a business suit?

Be sure to screen your attendees for the primary stress trigger(s) currently disrupting their life-work balance. Then you can group them accordingly into smaller breakout sessions, with plenty of time at the beginning (and intermittently) for general networking.

Consider ending the event with a large-scale guided meditation/relaxation session. Everyone will go home with a sense of renewed energy and the ability to coexist with an overflowing calendar.

If only I owned a yoga or Pilates studio. Say it with me, friends: Om.

Purge Those Business Woes with a Poetry Slam: Local businesses that offer writing services would be ideal event sponsors. This includes marketing companies, ad agencies, PR firms, business coaches, and even solopreneur B2B copywriters.

One important detail: selecting the proper venue. Hosting a poetry slam in a Barnes & Noble’s postage-stamp-size spare space won’t do. Also, keep in mind the upfront logistics required to register local business professionals as participants.

This event doesn’t necessarily need to do double duty as a fund-raiser; an entry fee is optional. Prizes correlating to the business theme are a must.

Sample competition categories include “Best Business Lament,” “Most Inspirational Business Poem,” and “Nastiest, Funniest Business Rant on the Planet.”

To ensure their objectivity, judges shouldn’t work at the same company as any of the contestants. We’re all poets, and it takes a networking event to know it…

The Business of Color War–It’s Not Just For Campers: The season is practically upon us. If your children will attend day camp or overnight camp in a few blessed weeks, the topic is bound to come up.

Why not be this summer’s early adopter and lead your local business community in an all-out color war? It just might produce unexpected ideas and strategic alliances.

I’m blatantly begging one local business to step up and accept venue-hosting privileges. Southern New Jersey possibilities: The Funplex in Mount Laurel, Pump It Up in Marlton, and The Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill.

Perhaps the various South Jersey chambers of commerce (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Southern New Jersey) would be willing to spearhead this “friendly” competition.

Personally, I think the Best Cheer and Best Song competitions will be the deciding factors…

Visit the Living Business Museum This Summer: My thanks to the 5th-grade teachers at Rice Elementary School in Marlton, NJ. They haven’t a clue that I’ve pilfered their annual Living Museum project as a potential business-networking program.

The elementary-school version typically involves assigning each student a historical person to portray and channel verbally. For the business edition, the assignment list would consist exclusively of well-known business leaders no longer with us.

When my son participated in the Rice Elementary School’s Living Museum, he portrayed Milton Hershey. Whilst strolling about the museum grounds (aka the school’s combination gym/auditorium), I had to push Mr. Hershey’s “start” button to activate him.

Exhibit possibilities for the Living Business Museum are endless.

Personally, I would love to “listen” to Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Cosmetics), Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel), Jean Nidetch (Weight Watchers), and Burt Shavitz (Burt’s Bees). I’m certain this idea offers tremendous business-networking potential.

To be continued on June 21…


How will you keep your business dance card filled this summer? Which of these tentative networking events sound like winners to you?

Would you pledge to transform any of my brainstorming efforts into a full-fledged happening this summer (or fall, or winter, or…)?

I happily offer you my kick-starting assistance. You know how to reach me…

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) company in Marlton, New Jersey, that plies its trade via copywriting, editing, and other content-marketing services. She revels in shielding her clients from the time-consuming pain of writing their own print or web marketing and promotional copy.

Please call Lori Shapiro of By All Writes LLC at 856-810-9764 (or e-mail her via to schedule the gratis 20-minute consultation that will resolve your current copywriting or editing dilemma…

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