Build Big Relationships with 2-Hour Cocktail Parties - Nick Gray

Mar 14, 2024

Notes

Welcome to Andy's Pod, where we delve into the tactics and stories behind successful business networking and event hosting. In today's episode, we sit down with event hosting expert Nick, who shares his invaluable insights on using in-person events to strengthen business connections, enhance lead generation, and build a vibrant community.

Discover why focusing on premium leads through carefully curated events can skyrocket your business networking efforts. Learn how Nick's strategic approach to event hosting, from choosing the right number of guests to crafting engaging icebreakers, transforms simple gatherings into powerful networking opportunities. Whether you're a seasoned creator looking to leverage events for growth or a business owner aiming to refine your go-to-market strategy with in-person gatherings, this episode offers a treasure trove of advice and real-life examples to inspire your next successful event.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

- Learn the "Nick" formula for hosting successful events that captivate and connect.
- Understand the significance of starting small and focusing on quality interactions.
- Discover how to utilize events for top-of-funnel networking and lead gen strategies.
- Gain insights into transitioning cold prospects into warm leads through personal engagement.
- Get inspired by creative event ideas that go beyond the traditional networking setup.

If you're looking to elevate your networking game and harness the power of in-person events to grow your business or personal brand, this episode is packed with strategies, stories, and tips to help you on your journey.

Subscribe to Andy's Pod for more insights into business, networking, and strategies that drive success. Join us as we explore innovative ways to connect, engage, and grow in the ever-evolving world of business.

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Transcript

Nick Gray:
So when I think about events and hosting, and I've helped hundreds of people now host their first event, the biggest piece of advice I say for somebody like you who wants to use this for business is don't start focused on your top shelf, on your business, on your premium leads.


Andy Mewborn:
You know, we've talked about doing this for like networking events, which I know get a bad rap, but like, how do you see some creators doing this today? Are they kind of leveraging this?


Nick Gray:
listener who's a new creator or has a you know a normal sized audience not a Sahil sized audience you can be using these types of events for your top funnel and you should be going through life collecting all the interesting people that you meet and inviting them to an event like that what are your craziest story you posted hundreds if not thousands of parties I think As far as the craziest party, one time I hosted with two other people and we each invited like 20 people and we weren't really following my formula. So we expected that like half of all our people would come. We'd maybe have 30 people. All the other plans got canceled except for my party. And so literally every single person came. So many people came that our coat rack collapsed. Imagine 60 people, no coat rack. There's coats all over the floor. They filled one entire bedroom like chest high of these huge puffy jackets.


Andy Mewborn:
And I think something that would be great that my audience would get a lot of value out of is, you wrote this book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, which, amazing how many five-star reviews you have on Amazon, by the way, when I started reading it. I was like, yeah, yeah, I saw it and I was like, holy crap, Nick's the man, he's got all these great reviews. But I think there's some overlap that we can talk about how, a lot of these tech companies or how businesses, startups in general can put together some of these in-person events in order as part of their go to market strategy.


Nick Gray:
So thinking of how your listeners can use in-person events to juice Lead gen or something like that.


Andy Mewborn:
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right. That's what I love to like, how can they put these events together, like in terms of a strategy? Right. I'd love to hear. I just I saw I was early at a unicorn. I started a company, sold that company, and now we're building a new one. And so selfishly, I'm actually trying to figure this out myself. Right. It's like, how can we build an in-person strategy here? Right.


Nick Gray:
Yes. I feel strongly about it. I have some thoughts. And I can help on that for sure.


Andy Mewborn:
Yes. Dude, so let's start from square one. I'm based in Austin, right? We have a software company that helps with lead gen. All right. Where do I start, dude? Like, where the heck should I start?


Nick Gray:
So when I think about events and hosting, and I've helped hundreds of people now host their first event, the biggest piece of advice I say for somebody like you who wants to use this for business, is don't start focused on your top shelf, on your business, on your premium leads. I suggest people that if they're thinking of hosting a launch party or a business happy hour or something, practice first on either your neighbors and your friends and your existing customers that you feel secure and comfortable with. But start in a low stakes environment. Think about if you had a new sales rep, would you give them your most high value, most important clients? No, you give them like your lowest quality leads to get started. The same thing sort of is about your first party because your first party, when you run it with my formula, when you run it, you're going to be nervous. You're going to miss things and you want a safe space to practice in.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah.


Nick Gray:
What I tell people generally is start with a mix of personal, social connections and maybe business, but don't start pure business. Then you can slowly add next time more business people, but still some of your friends, network, existing customers, and slowly you can merge it towards what you want. So for example, I talked to somebody who wants to use this for real estate and they want Realtors, by the way, get this more than anybody else. Realtors are like, client events say less. I'll do it right now. And so they understand the power of hosting events. But I tell them, I say, hey, your first party, just host it easy. Neighbors, friends, maybe existing clients. Next time, add more clients, existing clients perspective. But you still want to have the diversity of attendees. so that it's not purely a sales thing. Does that make sense? I'll pause and hear your thoughts from that.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, well, you said formula, right? And I think the first question that people are going to have as they listen to this is, what is the formula, right? And first, everyone go buy Nick's book, Two Hour Cocktail, because he's going to give away some of that stuff. But like, what is the formula, right? Like, what, like, let's hear the magic formula, because I've seen people rave about it. We've read the reviews on Amazon, like, I think on Twitter, I followed you on Twitter and some people have talked great things about it, right? So like, what is this magic formula, Nick? That's what I think I want to get into, what people will be asking here.


Nick Gray:
So the formula is pretty simple and you can think about it like my name, Nick. N-I-C-K. The N stands for name tags. You got to have name tags. This is a hill that I will die on. Even if you think that they're cheesy or that it's too formal, you really need the name tags. And the reason you need the name tags is because the purpose of this party is about all the different people that your guests will meet. Name tags help bring in new people to feel welcome. Now, if you're hosting a party with the same 10 people that you have known for 20 years, you obviously don't need the name tags. But by the way, don't do that for two reasons. Number one, 10 is not enough people. What I have found is the magic number for a happy hour is about 16 to 22. That's a good number. Wow. Okay. And the next thing is don't just invite the people that you know. The purpose of these gatherings is to invite new people to mix them into your world. It's that power of loose connections or weak ties. Or what maybe in the sales world, what do you call these leads where they're like, they're not really in your funnel yet, but they're aware of you? What would you call it?


Andy Mewborn:
Like prospects. Prospects. Cold prospects. Yeah, we'll call them cold prospects. Yeah.


Nick Gray:
That's a perfect way to think about how you can get those cold prospects into warm prospects by hosting an event like this. But I'll go through the formula first. So N stands for name tags. You're going to have name tags, first name only, big letters. I And I, I stands for icebreakers or intros. You're going to lead two or three rounds of intros for everybody at the room to help them mix and mingle. And the word icebreakers, you know, it has a bad reputation, especially among networking events. That's because people do them poorly. They do them very wrong. I've done thousands of icebreakers. I can tell you how to do them right.


Andy Mewborn:
What are, so we did name tags. That one's easy. All caps letters, just first name icebreakers. Yeah. I have so many questions that you said 16 to 22 people. That's not going to be my so far. My first question. My second question is going to be what are the top three icebreakers? Right. Because as some of the icebreakers are cheesy, as you know, it gets a bad rap and that. So first question, why 16 to 22? Is that just from hundreds of events that you've kind of found that number or like what happens when it's smaller than that? What happens when it's bigger than that?


Nick Gray:
Well, let's talk about what happens when it's smaller, because that's probably the worst case scenario. What I have found is that for a new host, their number one fear is that not enough people will show up. And so whether it's a business event or an event at your home, I feel like everybody has had some experience where either they're really worried nobody will show up or they actually hosted and not enough people showed up.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah.


Nick Gray:
When you have less than 16 at a happy hour, let's say you have 10. It's not enough people to keep the conversations growing and to break out into multiple small groups. When someone walks into a room and there's only 10 people. They're kind of like, oh man, this thing's kind of dead. Like they look, they're like, I can talk to everybody here. Look, I visually see everybody. 16, I found, allows enough small groups to be built that allows your guests to jump to different conversations. There's new people to meet. You know you're not going to talk to everybody if there's 16 that night. So it's a little bit of FOMO, like, oh, who am I going to talk to? Yeah. The other thing to keep in mind is that if you host a party for couples, you actually want to over plan a little bit. And I'll tell you why. Couples tend to cancel in pairs. It makes sense. If one of the couples can't come, then both aren't going to come. I talked to a woman who was hosting a happy hour using my book for new parents at her kid's school. She really wanted to meet the other parents, connect with the adults outside of school. And they had invited 14 people. So she said, OK, 14 plus me and my husband, that's 16. Well, it just so happened that two people could not make it. So she was already at the minimum. Two couldn't make it, but each of their spouses didn't come as well. So she went from 14 people down to 10 people, and it was 12. Look, she still had an okay party. It was fine. It was better than all other parties she's done. But I tell you, this pops off when there's a lot of energy in the room, and that happens with people.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, exactly. Okay, so worst cases last. Then over 22, what's going on there? What's what's happening there? Is that like, you know, exact everyone's anxious everywhere, like, shit, there's so many people like, what's going on there?


Nick Gray:
Over 22 is really for my advanced hosts. Don't do this. I know you have a lot of overachievers who listen to this pod by the nature of living and working in sales. You think, I can do anything. Okay, this, I'll double it. Here's what happens. When you have over 22, your ability as a host to make introductions to manage personal attention to each and every person, even to do a round of intros, it's too complicated. There's too many people. So if you do a round of intros and let's say maximum people are 30 seconds each, I mean, 22, 25 people, I mean, you're getting 10, 15 minutes. That's a long time to do a round of intros. So I want 15 to 22 for a new host. What I suggest people do is stick to that number for your first one or two parties. Get this down, just like making cold calls, just like anything. Learn the system, learn the rhythm, build that muscle memory. Then later you can experiment with your numbers of attendees.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah yeah okay so start simple do a few events and then you know get the the pieces down which you're you're giving us some of the pieces now which next is the icebreakers. All right so like Nick what are the icebreakers that like everyone loves because you know let's see if I remember any icebreakers. there's like there's like the common one like tell us where you're from originally and like your favorite food or something you know or like yeah like the the standard ones but like what are some icebreakers that you know you think people always rave about leave going hell yeah that was awesome


Nick Gray:
So I've thought a lot about icebreakers and I basically classify them into two different buckets. One of the buckets is easy icebreakers and the other bucket is value additive icebreakers. I'll talk about the easy icebreakers first. I want an icebreaker that's so easy to answer that people don't get stressed, anxious or freeze up. A bad example of what some may think is an easy icebreaker but actually isn't is what's your favorite business book? That's actually a pretty difficult one because it causes people to try to pick a definitive, subjective, exact answer that could elicit judgment from others there. Right? Oh, God, what am I going to say? How do I sound smart? Have I even read a business book? Like, holy crap, you know, they're forgetting, they're not knowing this stuff, right? An easy icebreaker that I like is just, hey, let's go around the circle, say your name, say what you do for work and tell me One of your favorite things that you like to eat for breakfast. What's something you like to eat for breakfast that makes you happy? This is an easy thing. Most people had breakfast that day or didn't. They choose to intermittent fast. They can talk about that. It's easy to answer. It's not complicated. It's a short answer. And it expresses a little bit about their personality. Okay, so you have the black coffee drinkers who are absolute psychos.


Andy Mewborn:
You have the like, right, just coffee, just coffee. I'm like, wigging out as I'm, you know, all morning.


Nick Gray:
Yeah. Right. And then maybe you have, you know, more of the indulgent chefs type, right? Oh, I really love pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries. It's a quick answer and it doesn't really matter what their answer is. We just want people to practice sounding off and talking to the group going around the room. That's the purpose of the icebreaker is to give a conversational crutch for people to go approach them and talk to them later. And the reason we do these intros is I hated going to parties or networking events where I never knew who was in the room. Oh, that person works in sales. I want to go talk to that person. Right. Yeah. Versus otherwise. What do you do? Every conversation. Hey, what's up? How do you know the host? What do you do for work? Same question. Same exact thing.


Andy Mewborn:
Don't do that.


Nick Gray:
You can make it easier for people when you lead icebreakers.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. And then your value based icebreakers. What are those ones?


Nick Gray:
I want to hear that. So later on in the party, once you've established rapport, once you've built up, people are a little comfortable, they've talked with one of the easy icebreakers. I like asking a value additive icebreaker. That means everybody's answer could help the room. Three examples of those. Number one, I live in Austin, Texas, so I might ask, hey, For this icebreaker, we're going to say your name, say what you do for work, say it again, even though we said it once, it helps to remind people, and then share what is one of your favorite spots here in Austin that you think is a hidden gem. It could be a small business, a hiking trail, just what's one cool thing here in Austin. That means it's value additive, that everybody will get ideas from what other people say that might help them in their life. I'll give you two more examples. Another example would be, hey, say your name, say what you do for work, and tell me one of the best purchases you've made over the last year for $100 or less. Could be an object or an experience. Could be a kitchen gadget or a massage, something like that. The last and final one, and actually this is the one I use the most for value added device breaker, is say your name, say what you do for work again, and then tell us one of the best pieces of media that you've consumed recently and why you liked it. And when I say piece of media, that could be a podcast like this. It could be a documentary you watched. It could be trashy reality TV on Netflix.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. Love Island or... Right, right. Golden Bachelor, I think is the last one I watched with my wife or something like that.


Nick Gray:
Dude, I just heard a speech two nights ago from a guy who was on Love is Blind. And he had just a wild story of what his experience was like. Apparently, they were basically drunk the entire time. And the first 48 hours, did you know this? The first 48 hours you go into social isolation mode. No TV, can't talk to the other people. So they take you to this deep low of social isolation. Then they throw them all together and start filming. And that's why the reactions, the emotions are just off the charts. Written like they're just in a room with pillows alone It's basically their hotel room and they've cut the internet and I think they even cut the TV and they're just like there they can read Like yeah wild right that is crazy.


Andy Mewborn:
You know having Kwame who's one of the guys on love is blind. He's coming on the pod Two weeks nice. Yeah, so he's coming on the pod. So I'll have to ask him about this because this is crazy Dude, no way Isn't that wild? That is because they've tested that and I'm sure they know like okay after that they're just gonna be they're gonna be like I don't want to say they're gonna be like animals wanting to just talk to anyone say anything right like that's exactly what the guy said he was like look the producers do a really good job of never


Nick Gray:
sort of explicitly telling you what to say or what to do, but they do plant hints or make it easier for what they want to happen. And that's a really good example of how they help make those turbocharged relationships happen by putting them in isolation beforehand.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. So next version of two hour cocktail party is going to be like, all right, you cannot do anything for 48 hours. before you throw this party. You have to sit in your garage alone.


Nick Gray:
Yeah, go ahead. Dude, listen to the party that I've been wanting to host. So I'm a caffeine addict. I drink green tea all day. I drink Coke Zero. I drink coffee. I want to host a party where probably it would be on a Monday morning and all the attendees have to promise to do no caffeine for the day beforehand. And what would happen is they would break their caffeine fast at the party. And I think everybody would just be totally jacked, totally just like, really? Yes. It's not stupid. It's a dumb it's a dumb idea for a silly party. But I think it'd be funny if people are just high as a kite off coffee at a party.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, that would be awesome. I mean, you know, it's, uh, it would be, it'd be kind of like if everyone was like drunk at a party, but the coffee high and wonder what kind of stuff would come out of that. Yeah. Yeah. Business deals, all kinds of crazy. I did. I saw on Twitter, you just hosted like a, you had your birthday party and I really, I don't want to age you. What, what your birthday party was it? Yes, I was 42, 42nd birthday party. Your 42nd birthday party. I thought it was, I thought it was 40 actually. So I would have been, you know, gone down here for you. But, and you threw a, you threw a like conference there for your party with like 20 or 40 of your closest friends. Right? And so how did, because you're the party master, right? Or business party master, how did you organize that? And like, what was the, what was the thinking behind doing that?


Nick Gray:
So this was pretty difficult of what I did. I wouldn't recommend it for everybody. I've, I've hosted hundreds, if not thousands of my own two hour cocktail parties. So I've, I know it. I can do it in my sleep. But I'm experimenting with new stuff now that I'll maybe write about in three or four years. And what I experimented with for my birthday was hosting a conference. So instead of two hours, I actually had 20 hours of programming. It was one and a half full days where I invited 40 of my most interesting friends from all around the world to fly in and hang out. have a lot of small group conversations with other inspiring and top creators and business owners.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. Nice. And how did you, how'd you format that? Was that, or is that a secret? Right. Is that like, Oh yeah, no, no, it's just.


Nick Gray:
It's not helpful to share because it's so advanced. It probably took me 160 hours of focused work to pull this off. And it's just what my head and many people said it was the best event that they've ever attended. And these are people who go to a lot of events. So it's something I'm very, very proud of, but it's so advanced that I just don't know if it'd be helpful for anybody.


Andy Mewborn:
Okay, well, let's get back to the Nick framework then, because we kind of got off there. So there's C. What's C? We have N for name tags, I for icebreakers, C if you're throwing a two-hour cocktail party. What's that one there? Maybe I should guess. Maybe I should guess first. C is for connection.


Nick Gray:
Oh, I like that. Dang, that could be connection. C is actually for cocktails or mocktails only. No dinner. Don't serve dinner. Okay. Why? So many people have this idea that they have to serve dinner, that if you're going to have people over at night, you must feed them. And I think that that is, I'm not going to say false, but I'd like to challenge people on that assumption. and that my party is sort of the MVP, the minimum viable party. I like that. Because I don't like dinner parties. I think for new hosts, dinner parties are way too complicated, a bit too expensive, and they're harder to get people to say yes to that you don't know well. So I tell people, look, cocktails or mocktails only. Yes, you can have snacks. You can have some finger foods, but this is not a seated dinner. Don't do a dinner party.


Andy Mewborn:
Okay. Don't do a dinner party. And so if I'm just doing a mocktail or cocktail party, then I'm probably going to do something at like five or 6 p.m. before, you know, people get like hangry is what I'm guessing, right? Because once people get hangry, I feel, I mean, I get hangry if I don't eat by like seven, I'm like, yeah, I'm like, I need some food, man. So yes, so cocktails are mocktails. And then you mentioned once you throw dinner, the next expensive makes it more complicated. I'm too, because you have to get everyone sitting around. What do you do while you're eating?


Nick Gray:
Well, and that's the thing is that sitting down is the kryptonite. to a successful gathering. And here's why. Because when you're hosting a happy hour, you know, it's a business pod, so I can say networking event. I don't like to say networking event too much because it does have a negative reputation. But think for your listeners to imagine a networking event. The last thing you want to do is have seated groups. It's impossible for new people to join seated groups. People get locked in. They get stuck in conversations. This party, why it will be successful for you to nurture your cold leads is because you're going to get everybody talking to as many people as possible. And then for you, if you want to make those leads warm, I can tell you how to make those leads warmer. The secret is that you have to schedule the call or the coffee meeting at the end of your party. Don't try to follow up to them the next day or the next week. The half-life of obligation or reciprocity for a party invite is very short. So if I'm wanting to connect with somebody, I'll invite them to one of my events, show them that I host a good event, do a good job. And then towards the end of the party, say, Hey, John, man, we didn't get to connect. I'd love to follow up. Can we schedule something to have a quick phone call tomorrow or schedule lunch sometime next week? Let's open our phones. Can we book it now? And when they're in your world, when you have added value with a good event, they are definitely ready and open and receptive.


Andy Mewborn:
Hmm. Yeah, that's like very similar to like a sales tactic that a lot of people use, which is like, don't get off the call without the next meeting, like on the, you know, on the thing, which is good in person, though, in person takes some guts to do that, right? Because it feels a little, it might feel a little like, oh, okay, this, this guy's ready to go. He's like, get out your phone, like, let's do it, you know? Yeah. Yeah.


Nick Gray:
But if you run a good event in a you show that you're interesting. Here's the thing. People want to know those who bring people together. Everybody wants to know someone who hosts a good party that if you're going to do this, not as soon as they arrive. Right. And I can say, oh, my God, thank you so much for coming. Can we schedule? No. You're going to give them a good experience for an hour and a half. You're going to introduce them to other people, really host them. And then once you've added value, then you can ask. But you have to give before you can take. You know this.


Andy Mewborn:
Yes, yes, absolutely. Okay. What's the K? Actually, before I... Let me guess what the K is. K is for... Man, K is for knowledge.


Nick Gray:
Knowledge. Knowledge. Yeah, I know about this. No, K stands for kick them out at the end. The party is only...


Andy Mewborn:
Okay. Okay. Isn't that good? Yeah, that is good. Kick him out. Yeah. Yeah. Love it. Okay.


Nick Gray:
What's the kick him out at the end? The party is only two hours long and a lot of people have trouble with this folks, you know, in Mexico, Spain. Oh, this could never work where I am. Trust me. I've worked with people in Italy, Spain, South America, Asia. You can host a party. And in fact, people will thank you for kicking them out at the end. and they will appreciate and respect you more when you end the party on top. And a lot of people wait for the party to slowly drizzle out or this, that, or the other. Trust me, this is an efficient, well-run event, and you want to have both a start time and an end time. There's many reasons for that, but yes, you want to kick them out at the end.


Andy Mewborn:
What's the thinking behind that? It kind of it creates some FOMO maybe of like, oh, I can't wait for the next one. That's kind of my first thought. Or what's kind of the thinking behind that, Nick?


Nick Gray:
Few pieces of thinking. Number one is when you compress your party to only two hours, more people show up on time. So just imagine the difference in a three hour event. If you show up an hour late, you're OK. You still got two hours for a two hour party. If you show up an hour late, you're only there for an hour. So people don't pull that move anymore. You also are easier to get yeses. Think about it. If you have a cold prospect, a cold lead there, it's a pretty easy ask to drop by sometime for a two hour happy hour. Yeah, that's like an easy thing. You know, they can get dinner afterwards. They can leave. It's a happy hour or whatever. The other reason you want to end it after two hours is you actually want to end it on a high note. People remember the last moments of any event that they go to. And when you end it, when things are going well, Not like, oh, slowly drag it out, let the vibe die, let people sneak out, blah, blah, blah. When you end it, when things are on top, they'll respect you and they'll want to come back to your next one. Because remember, I could write any book that could just give you ideas on how to host one party. But the people who get the biggest benefits from this are those that learn how to make hosting a habit. It is part of who they are and what they do. They constantly are dropping people into this top of funnel. That's their happy hour, whatever.


Andy Mewborn:
Mm-hmm. And how do you see a lot of creators gonna listen to this this pod too? And how do you see? You know, we've talked about doing this for like networking events, which I know I get a bad raps But like how do you see some creators doing this today? Are they kind of leveraging this in in their strategies? I see I've seen some people like so he'll do some stuff like this. I've seen who like Lenny, he does a product management podcast. He's done some events. So we'd love to hear how you see these creators leveraging their events for this strategy and kind of what their outcomes are for that.


Nick Gray:
For the average listener who's a new creator, or has a normal-sized audience, not a Sahil-sized audience, but a normal-sized audience, you can be using these types of events for your top of funnel, and you should be going through life collecting all the interesting people that you meet and inviting them to an event like this. So think about life as a creator. You have a lot of people reaching out to you, a lot of people that you meet, a lot of people want to connect. It's impossible for you to have meetings with all those people. Instead, invite them to one of your meetups, invite them to one of your happy hours as a way for you to vet them and get to know them a little bit better. So that's my biggest advice and that that I see the most successful people is they constantly have way. Oh, dude, what's up? I host a happy hour every other month. Can I get your info? Yeah, yeah. Let's link up. You're coming to my next event. That's that's very good.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, I'd love to do like for me, my my personality is very like I like I'm an adrenaline kind of seeker. Right. We're like I like to surf. I like to like kite surf. I like to do a lot of this stuff. So I would love to do something that's like in that realm. You know, I think I think there, um, Danny Miranda, I'm sure you know who Danny is, but we, he was on the pod a few weeks ago. Um, he's doing a run club, which I thought was pretty interesting. Right. He does like a run club every Tuesday morning. I believe it is. I I've been in Mexico, so I haven't joined, but, um, sorry, Danny, if you're listening to this, uh, but, uh, Yeah, I think like a run club is something I've seen people put together. Have you seen any other kind of unique ways people have put together, not necessarily a cocktail party, but just these, like these gatherings that basically build community and help you. Yeah. Essentially build community there.


Nick Gray:
I like what Elle is doing with her morning walks here in Austin. She does them on Saturday morning. I'll try to think of some other ones. There's a guy named Henry who has a e-com meetup in New York City. But the idea of gathering community is so powerful and it will change you from someone that's having to work for your outbound to instead getting inbound of meeting new people. And after about two events, you'll be known as someone who hosts good events. It's one of the most shocking, surprising things that people report back to me, that they are blown away, that now they're getting inbound people that they should meet, which never happened to them before.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah, yeah, which is crazy, right? And obviously that's something that you want. Well, so Nick, have you ever done any like bigger conference events? Like let's say your company is doing, you know, like let's call it a conference with like sponsors and stuff like that. Um, you know, how do you, how do you translate this from, you know, something, you know, 16 to 22 people to then a bigger conference that you want to throw that like, is you have sponsors, you know, probably a hundred to 200 people shoot maybe more like, you know, how have you thought about translating this to that? And is that just a whole different beast maybe that you don't kind of think about or worry about at this point?


Nick Gray:
I think the best person to follow for that is a guy named Andrew Young. His last name is spelled Y-E-U-N-G. And he's based out of New York City. He's the best guy to follow for those larger events, getting sponsors. And I think he's been really successful in hosting tech networking events with sponsors. That's a harder game. And it's more advanced. And so I don't feel as skilled to talk about that.


Andy Mewborn:
No, no worries. I was just wondering, because, you know, it feels like you've got the layout, you've got the framework, you've got the formulas to make people like, oh, holy crap, like. This is great. I want to go to more of Nick's or Andy's parties. Right. And so I'm also thinking, you know, for a lot of a lot of companies, maybe you want to do a user, a customer event or like a user event. Right. Which made them have thousands of users and inviting those people. What the best kind of approach for that one would be. But that's a whole different ballpark. Right. These are more like these are going to be more events. for closer networking, for closer relationships, for eventually your highest value prospects, maybe like a wine party or cocktail party, whatever it may be. So that's awesome, man. Now, with this, you did the two hour cocktail party. What are you going to write about next?


Nick Gray:
I think maybe leaning more into the networking event stuff.


Andy Mewborn:
I think there's a goldmine, man. Yeah, it's a goldmine. A hundred percent. Yeah.


Nick Gray:
Yeah, figuring out, you know, giving a playbook or a toolkit to people who want to host meetups or client events. I think that would be pretty powerful. But I'm not sure. For now, my number one goal is to get 500 people to read my book and host an event and become what I call a verified party host. And that means that they they use name tags and they send me a group photo and they follow my formula. So I'm like laser focused on getting those first 500 people to see what I can learn from that. But if I had to pick right now, I would say that I'd lean into that.


Andy Mewborn:
Leaning into that. Nice. And then something that comes to mind is the party happens. What do you do after? right like after the party happened because Are you following up with people individually, like as the host, right? Like what's kind of the game plan there and the strategy that you've used in order to get people to the next one?


Nick Gray:
Great question. So I do send a thank you message the morning after with the group photo. And at the party, by the way, I didn't mention this, but you really have to make sure you take a group photo. I'll tell you why, because you're going to use that group photo as social proof when you reach out to invite other people to your next parties. If you're listening to this, wanting to use it for sales, for biz dev, you are going to be doing outreach, maybe on LinkedIn, maybe on something else. You're going to use that group photo to show them, Hey, look, I host these fun events. Look at all these people. would love to invite you sometime and introduce you to some of the other interesting people I know. So I send the group photo the morning after. I thank people. And then if you're feeling good, if you're feeling motivated, inspired and encouraged, then you'd set the date for your next party and you would choose a date, maybe four to six to eight weeks in advance to plan your next party and start to think who else you want to invite and which repeat guests. So at the end of my parties, I do tend to make a little list of the great guests, people who are really good, who showed up, who volunteered, who helped out, who are outgoing, maybe not even outgoing. Maybe they were like introverts who just had great things to say and seemed to really appreciate the party. I like to make a list of those people and then for sure you want to invite them back.


Andy Mewborn:
What are your craziest story? You've hosted hundreds, if not thousands of parties. I think the only parties I hosted were like years ago in college, right? What are some of your crazy stories? Oh, man. I don't know if they're PG enough for this for this. OK, OK. Fair. They might be a little too R-rated for this podcast, but I'm trying to think of a recent one where I've had some like either wild stories or horror stories in terms of a party. I'm trying to think here. Um, nothing that comes to mind right now, but again, I haven't hosted that many parties, so it's hard for me. But how about you? Have you had any like just wild stories from a party you've hosted or like horror stories or anything like that?


Nick Gray:
You know, I went to a party recently that was for launching an app and they kind of did everything wrong that you could do. And so maybe I'll share some of those stories for anybody that might be. Yeah, that'd be great. So at the party, I did a survey of people that I didn't know what the app did. I just I got the invite and it seemed interesting. So I stopped by. I asked around to the party, hey, do you know what this app does? What does this app do? Nobody knew. Nobody had any idea what why we were there, what was going on. Second, the host never made any announcements or introductions. It was more of a cool party with a DJ, dark lights, you know, some photographers. But it was a cool vibe, which actually wasn't good for what they were trying to do, which is launch an app. Yeah. And it was just too loud. It was too loud. It was too dark. The host really didn't take any leadership to add any amount of structure. And so I felt like last night they probably spent thousands of dollars on that party to launch the app. And I don't think it was successful at all. And yet it's what they thought a good party was supposed to be, right? Like, yeah, a good DJ. Right. Yeah. They focused on all the wrong things. See, I would rather leave somebody. That's why I say no food. I would rather someone leave my party hungry rather than bored. OK. Because in my mind, it's more important to keep them entertained, meeting interesting people. They can eat on their own. My friends are adults, but helping them meet, mix, mingle, that's up to the host. So that's the host duty. As far as the craziest party, one time I hosted with two other people and we each invited like 20 people. And we weren't really following my formula. So we expected that like half of all our people would come. We'd maybe have 30 people. It just so happened that that night was like a weird night in New York where it was either a snowstorm or something where all the other plans got canceled except for my party. And so literally every single person came. So many people came that our coat rack collapsed. Imagine 60 people, no coat rack, there's coats all over the floor. They filled one entire bedroom like chest high of these huge puffy jackets. The room was packed wall to wall. I'm talking like crowded subway station. And I was freaking out at first and then I just resigned to the chaos and it ended up being a good night. It was a lot of fun. It was definitely memorable, but perhaps not ideal for a new host.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. How do you stay like chill as a host? Right. Because like a couple of things that I've hosted. And this is me probably just being a perfectionist, right? It's me being like, OK, we got to make sure this is this is right or this is right or this is right. Like, how do you kind of stay still chill where you're able to get value out of it yourself and able to still network and make sure everything's going well? And I'm sure it's a mindset thing. Right. But like, what keeps you calm in those events? when you do that. Because I have that issue personally, and I'm sure other people do. It's probably just, it comes with experience maybe, I don't know. But that's something that I'm always worried about, right? Is like, is everything happening at the right time? Should we do this next? I'm always like worrying about the next thing, the next thing, the next thing.


Nick Gray:
I wish I could tell you that you can both host a great party and enjoy it as a guest, but that's really not the case. When you are hosting a good party, you always need to have one eye on the door, on the room, watching things just to make people feel served and to make the room mix up a new conversation. So it's very hard for me hosting my own party to even drop into a deep five minute conversation, even five minutes. is hard for me to drop into because I'm running events, I'm welcoming people, I'm cleaning, I'm tidying, I'm making introductions. Your results and your successes will come from hosting from the connections that you'll make. I can't tell you the number of people who probably would accept my random phone call right now. And nobody accepts random phone calls, by the way, right? Like nobody, like if you call somebody these days, like you're like stone cold killer.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. I barely, I call two people today, my mom and my wife and like, that's it. Right. Yeah.


Nick Gray:
And even then I'm kind of like, Oh, but I do find that folks will accept my calls and that's because I've built up such a good reputation as a host. That will happen. And it's kind of you're building up your social credit score by hosting these events. You will become more important, more desired. You'll get invited to more events. People will introduce you to others naturally. And for somebody that works in sales, I just can't say. how wild that is of going from needing to do outbound to literally once you host. Look, this isn't going to happen after your first party, but once you get to be known as a good host, which, by the way, the bar is so low to host a good event right now. Once you become known as a good host, you'll be introduced to people all the time. It's really a nice perk.


Andy Mewborn:
Mm-hmm. Well, that's part of why I do this podcast, right? Like yeah, this is this is part of it is like one-to-one connection You know and like again, this isn't a big cocktail party. It's a lot easier from from Getting on a call right now and doing the editing and I'll managing the process. Yeah, that could be a pain in the butt of like getting it out there, right? But overall, like that's pretty much why I do this is because I can, I'm also built, one, I want to learn from people and typically I have an objective of like, okay, I want to learn about how to throw in-person events. Who's the person? Oh, Nick is the person for that. I want to learn from him. And also in the meantime, I'm building like a new friend, right? It's kind of like the way I think about it. And so in the future, I could probably be like, hey, Nick, I need I need to call you. Can I get your five minutes, your feedback on this thing? I'm thinking. Right. And like, guess what? Like, Nick, most likely you'll probably be like, yeah, sure, man. Give me a call or whatever. Right. And so that is kind of that honestly, one of my main pieces of doing this pod as well. From it too comes some inbound and some people be like, Hey, I heard your pot on this. Like, what, can you connect me with Nick or can you, you know, whatever that may be like, that stuff comes from it too. And which I also really enjoy, you know? So have you ever, this brings me to a question, have you ever thought about doing like a virtual version of what you do?


Nick Gray:
And I know that's way, you don't like, okay. No, I don't like virtual. And I've had a lot of people who've asked about that. I find it's just so hard to get those natural jump in between conversations, the energy. And so I'm just laser focused on live events and I think it's really good.


Andy Mewborn:
Yeah. Yeah. You keep the focus. That's good. That's something I need to work on. Oh, yeah. Let's do it, man. Let's do it. Yeah, we had till 945. So we're over over that or 1045. But Nick, dude, it was great chatting with you, my friend. Thank you, Andy. That's awesome.