Potluck Networking Parties: Meeting & Greeting is Better Over Food!

If you are a bit shy and don’t enjoy the typical networking event, consider organizing a potluck networking event. Meeting and greeting is always easier over food and your dish can be the start of some interesting conversations. Lived overseas and have a favorite dish from your ex-pat days? Have a passion for an unusual cuisine? Lucky enough to have inherited grandma’s legendary recipe box? It’s all fair game!

A few thoughts to get you started:

  • Consider simply posting on LinkedIn and asking local connections if there is interest
  • Reach out to local professional associations and see if they will help to spread the word
  • Finding a free space if you want to have space for a bigger crowd doesn’t necessarily need to have a cost associated with it…is there a community room at your local library? Does the senior center allow the community to use their space? Is there a professional association with access to donated corporate space? Get creative! If you want to start small, consider polling connections for a suitable host; in this political season, we’ve all seen chatter about fundraising house parties–consider this a twist on that theme.
  • There are a number of free tools to help coordinate attendance and exchange notes.
  • Set up a mix of dishes needed and ask registrants to sign-up for a slot; nothing worse than a potluck where everyone brings a dip!
  • Request that interested parties connect with other attendees on LinkedIn in advance of the potluck; you want folks to come prepared to make real connections of mutual benefit.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to those who are actively job hunting! Mixing up the attendee list provides for maximum benefit: employed attendees want to expand their networks, too and they may have open roles at their organizations.
  • Be sure to gather feedback after the event; SurveyMonkey allows for anonymous survey responses and people like to know that their feedback is valued.
  • After you get an event, or two under your belt, consider setting a calendar that extends out 3-6 months.
  • If attendees are willing, try to share recipes after the event; you can create a LinkedIn group and facilitate communication and sharing. Everyone enjoys learning new things and a potluck is a great way to pick new “go to” dishes.