If it’s appropriate to your style of business development, consider doing business-to-business lunches.
For example, invite a small number of your customers to lunch and ask each of them to bring a guest; the remaining seats are for members of your firm. Each prospective guest is invited by telephone and email. Try to ascertain the names of all guests in advance so you can contact them directly as well.
An ideal venue for business-to-business lunches is your own conference room, if it’s big enough. Otherwise arrange for a private dining room at a restaurant or hotel.
Invite an outside speaker to give a brief talk on a topic of interest to your guests. Examples might include the local crime prevention officer, who could discuss security in the workplace; a city planner who might discuss your community’s future plans; or a bank economist to discuss the economy.
Here’s a suggested format:
- Start at 12 noon and end promptly at 1:30 pm
- Allow 15 minutes for socialising, then have lunch
- After everyone has eaten, have your speaker address the group for no more than 10 minutes
- After the speech, allow time for questions and answers and interaction within the group
Business-to-business lunches are an excellent device for bringing together referral sources (particularly customers) and their business colleagues, friends, or family members. Shortly after the event, send each guest a letter to thank them for their attendance and include some promotional materials for them to pass on. If any prospects attended the lunch, make sure to call them and arrange for a follow-up meeting.