We started inviting one person or one couple at a time, sitting them about 6 feet away and portioning appetizers and snacks individually. We have gradually made the groups a little larger.
- Your Zoom friends. You’ve kept in touch with your HNW friends via Zoom. These people are a good starting place. If you have a Zoom call with a few people connecting and socializing, they may collectively agree to get together in person. This gives those not comfortable the opportunity to opt out.
- Have the vaccine conversation. It’s easier if the few couples or individuals have all been vaccinated and are like-minded. If a guest hasn’t been vaccinated, you need to tell the other guests ahead of time.
- Use the outdoor advantage. Talk about how the meal or gathering will take place in the fresh air. Set up your seating so there’s a table in the middle. This allows couples to effectively sit in their own bubbles.
- Masks and sanitizer. Although it’s pretty obvious these guests won’t be wearing masks, we have a few blue masks and a pump bottle of sanitizer on a side table. This gives people the option to use it.
- Have water and coffee on hand. People will probably be drinking wine or gin and tonics. But they will also be driving. Transitioning away from alcohol to coffee makes sense. Bottled sparkling water on the table with extra classes gives guests an alternative.
Basics of Post-Pandemic Entertaining
Ideally, everyone in your small group knows one another. If not, you have duties as the host.
- Make the introductions. Say a few words about each person, their community connection and what makes them interesting. This helps break the ice.
- Look for stragglers. Someone is often left out of the conversation. Join the conversation, then bring them in with “Phil, what’s your opinion?”
- Divide the work. My wife and I have a system. One of us does the work, the other is charming. One person stays at the table and hosts, the other gets the grill going, food ready and table set.
- Get the first round. We mix and serve everyone’s first drink, then let them know they refresh their own after that.
- Keep the conversation going. Obviously, you avoid politics and religion. I’m amazed at the divide in political opinions among our friends. Everyone keeps this rule by mutual consent. Asking about travel plans or home renovation projects are good conversation starters.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other face-to-face. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. You are dealing with calculated risks here, yet the official guidance is heading toward vaccinated people having more flexibility to get together.
How Socialization Helps
Before long, people will get comfortable with gathering again. You are in the vanguard. People will remember who had the first gatherings. If they are comfortable meeting outside, they should be comfortable meeting you for lunch at a nice sidewalk café. Your objective is to identify shared interests, which provides the rationale for getting together again. This also provides the opportunity to draw them out about their current relationship with their financial advisor. I am continually surprised how forthcoming people are about that relationship and how many of them aren’t ideal matches.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy investor,” can be found on Amazon.