I’m sure you’ve heard this question many times, I know I have… “If you knew what you know now, what would you do differently?”
Besides invest my life savings into cryptocurrencies, I’d go back and start hosting dinners earlier. When I started hosting dinners in 2013, my professional and personal life changed dramatically. My network exploded and I made lifelong friends, and it all happened because I took a leap and started hosting Mastermind Dinners.
I really didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what sort of questions to ask or how to structure the meals. I didn’t know if I should invite 5 people or 50. It took a lot of learning through trial and error… But after hosting hundreds of meals, and talking to Dan Martell and Sol Orwell, I’d like to share the top 3 tips to hosting great dinners.
If You Don’t Have an Anchor, Create a Theme
“Every meal I have is typically thematic” – Dan Martell
There are are two main ways to get people to come to the dinners that you curate: either have an anchor or create a theme.
An anchor is simply a notable person that will draw others to your meal. Let’s say that you know that Tim Ferriss is going to be attending a dinner that you’re invited to. My guess is that you’re much more likely to go, I know I wouldn’t miss a dinner with him there.
But oftentimes it’s quite difficult to have an anchor attend each of your dinners. Fortunately there’s an easier way to structure your meals. If I can’t have an anchor commit to a meal, then I structure my dinners thematically. What I mean by that is this – I’ll think of an industry, a topic, or an area and I’ll create my meals, and invite people, based on that.
For example, I’ll have a dinner focused entirely on cryptocurrency (because it’s such a hot topic right now…), or a dinner for entrepreneurs in Nashville, TN. And then I’ll invite people who are in the cryptocurrency space who don’t know each other, or entrepreneurs in the Nashville area who aren’t yet acquainted. This is effective because those people that I invite are invested to come to learn more about the industry that they’re passionate about and simultaneously meet influencers in the space.
Six Is The Magic Number
“If you’re trying to build relationships with people, then six gets the one conversation” – Dan Martell
The question I asked myself when I decided to host my first meal was “How many people should be there?”
It’s a tough question, and ultimately the number of people you want to attend your meal depends on your intentions. Is your main goal to gather together a group of people so that they can learn from one another and make incredible connections? Or is your goal to deeply develop your personal and professional relationships?
If your goal is simply networking with lots of people, then six might be a small number. But Dan, Sol, and I have found that if you’re trying to build relationships, then six is the number to shoot for.
Why six? The main reason is that with six people you can still have one fluid conversation. Everyone will feel involved. Any more than six people and naturally the table is going to be divided into at least two different conversations. And as the host, you’ll have to figure out how to manage and facilitate more than one conversation, which makes your job difficult.
There are also some other benefits to having six people at your dinner. If one person cancels, then you still have five people, which isn’t an awkward number. But let’s say you originally only planned for a dinner with four people and one person cancels? Then things can get pretty awkward with just three people…
So aim to have six people attend each of the meals that you host.
Two Questions You Should Ask
Since your meal is created around a theme (first tip), people will naturally have great conversations during dinner. They have a passion or interest for the same industry or topic and you often won’t have to do much facilitation at all. But, if you want to take it to the next level and really build those deep relationships, then I recommend that you ask these two questions at the end of the meal.
Sidenote: Make sure you ask these questions at the end of the meal, because by then people will be more comfortable with one another and are more willing get vulnerable and authentic with their answers.
The best way to ask these questions is to pose the questions, give people a minute or two to think about them, and then go around the table and have each person answer them one at a time.
Question 1: “If we were meet one year from today with a bottle of champagne, what would we be celebrating?”
This is the classic question in this season of the podcast. And there’s a reason it works well – when you ask this question, people are forced to think about their goals, dreams, and aspirations. And oftentimes it’s not just related to their business. People will talk about improving their health or mending relationships. As a result, you get to know who they truly are and what they want out of life.
From there, other people attending the dinner may be able to help them reach those goals. Let’s say someone says “In a year from now, I’d be celebrating my company getting $1 million in funding from our kickstarter campaign.” To loop back around to Clay Hebert (the crowdfunding expert and the generous man he is), he’d immediately step up and offer to help that person. Therefore, this question naturally creates a “give” mentally of people willing to help.
Question 2: “What do your friends reach out to you for the most when it comes to advice and feedback?”
This question also organically creates an environment of building deep, lasting relationships. It’s a hard question to answer, and it gets people to think deeply – it’s essentially another way of asking multiple questions in one: “What are you in expert in? What do people trust you with? And how can you potentially help the people sitting around this table?”
At this point in the dinner, after an hour or two of getting to know each other (and potentially two glasses of wine), people are willing to offer help and support, knowing that they will probably get help and support in return.
These questions are incredibly effective at building deep relationships quickly, and usually right after each person answers these questions, then people are vigorously exchanging business cards and phone numbers.