How and why have these two community catalysts joined forces to become a dynamic, power-hosting duo? First it’s important to learn a little bit about who they are and how they met.

Selena Soo is one of those names that just kept coming up for me. Since 2013 dozens of people in my network have referred to her work or mentioned her in as someone to watch. As Founder and CEO of S2 Group – a publicity and business strategy firm for experts, authors, and coaches – Selena’s genius is helping people leverage their personal brand to take their business to the next level.

I was introduced to Chris Winfield at an event in 2016 where I was told he was just one of those people that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to connect with. Chris has been a lifelong entrepreneur and known as a productivity expert. He’s a regular contributing author for Inc., Business Insider, TIME, and Entrepreneur.com.

So how did these two meet and decide to host dinners together?

“We have a different style, but our heart is in the same place and our vision is in the same place” – Chris Winfield

Not surprisingly, they met at a dinner. As a matter of fact, is was a dinner that Selena was hosting with Dan Martell. They immediately hit it off and ended up talking for hours that night. A couple of months later they hosted their first dinner party and the rest, as they say, is history.

A Shared Vision…

Ultimately, they wanted to connect people and they make it very clear to their attendees that they did now have an ulterior motive. They simply love the feeling of opening doors to people and getting them on the path to success.

“The most rewarding thing for us is to be able to open up those big doors for people and connect the dots and make things happen” – Selena Soo

They understand that connecting with these people through hosting dinners has both direct and indirect ROI. They’ve made direct business deals through some of the people they’ve connected with, and they’ve also received indirect ROI by growing their reputation and being top influencers in a city of influencers.

Influencer’s Only.

Over time, this partnership grew to be called “Influencer’s Dinners,” small and intimate evenings where influencers from across industries have the chance to sit down and break bread together. Chris and Selena have been hosting these private dinners once a month since 2016 and have hosting big name guests including the VP of Video at Forbes, the Content Director at Time Magazine, and The Director of Strategy & Social Media at Inc. Magazine attend. Through a genuine desire to serve and connect, these two operate at a very high level.

How They Host 

At first, Chris and Selena had to reach out to people cold. Selena’s a self-proclaimed introvert and was initially fearful of doing this. But once she revisited her intentions of hosting these dinners, which was solely for the benefit of the people in attendance, she no longer had fear.

“Remove any fear from reaching out to people” – Selena Soo

When you reach out to people inviting them to your dinner, it’s important to be honest and straightforward with them. Tell them your intentions. Position the dinner in a fun and exciting way, and if people say yes, then great. If they say no, you can’t take it personally.

The Two Questions You Must Ask Before Dinner Starts

Having a great dinner is more than just having people show up, as the dinner itself must be engaging and add value.

The best way to do that is to start off strong with two questions that will carry the energy throughout the entire meal. Those two questions are:

  1. What’s your name and what do you do?
  2. What do you need help with right now?

The first question is straightforward and adds a proper introduction to the meal. But the second question is where the real magic happens. When you invite influencers to a meal with other influencers, oftentimes there’s this natural inclination to display a “highlight reel” of themselves and portray this uber-successful person. It can often feel fake and shallow.

But by asking someone to answer “What do you need help with right now?” it creates vulnerability. On top of this, it creates an awareness of what this person needs help with, and if anyone in the room has expertise and can help, then they’re very likely going to offer that help.

After everyone answers these questions, the conversation throughout the meal will be flowing in a giving, authentic way. People will continue to be real about what they’re struggling with and offering to help others where they can.

Consider Sponsorships

Dinners aren’t cheap. And if you want to continually build your network and add value to others through hosting meals, then considering sponsorships is an important step in the process.

You won’t want to consider partnerships right away, since you’ll need to build a bit of reputation. But once you have regular dinners in which influencers consistently show up, you can build relationships with sponsors that will cut costs dramatically.

There are two main sponsorship opportunities to consider.

The first is to find an amazing venue and let them know that all of your future dinners will be held there if they’re willing to give preferred pricing.

The second is to find an author who is releasing a book in the near future. This sounds weird, but you’ll understand more after a quick explanation. Writers will often spend $10,000+ on a PR firm that honestly doesn’t get a whole bunch of traction for them. But if you can position your offer in a compelling way, a writer may be willing to pay for half of the bill (or even the whole dinner) if they know that successful entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, and innovators will be in attendance. This is especially true if you give them 5 minutes of speaking time.

To hear more about these infamous influencers dinners, check out this episode of Community Made…