Networking is one of the most valuable aspects of any legal education event. Wise event planners will schedule plenty of time for attendees to get together with colleagues, vendors and faculty.
Sadly, these events are often difficult and of little value to many attendees. If you are not adept at “working a room,” or you forgot to bring cash for the cash bar, or you’re exhausted at the end of a long day sitting in stuffy rooms listening to even stuffier presentations … the cocktail reception can turn into just another grueling obligation.
I’ve attended more than my fair share of these events, replete with tasteless hors d’oeuvres, a carnival barker with a microphone announcing some free prize drawing, high top tables without chairs, and two drink tickets allotted per person with lines at the cash bar winding out to the parking lot.
Confession: I really hate those events.
I am exhausted at the end of a day of lectures, completely un-skilled at small-talk, and unwilling to wait more than five minutes for a watered-down cocktail. I have never, not once, not ever, made a great new connection, picked up a brilliant new idea, or even had a stimulating conversation at one of these affairs. And yes, I realize this is mostly my own fault, but I have non-scientific evidence that suggests I am not the only one.
So, we decided to do things a little – well, actually, a whole LOT – differently at The Summit.
We hired a couple of buses and brought everyone out to Legacy Ranch for a late afternoon reception and dinner party.
Wine and beer flowed freely, music played softly overhead. A fun, flamboyant chef took over the kitchen preparing gourmet delights with the showmanship of a Galloping Gourmet. We queued up a baseball game in the media room for the Yankees fans among us. The garden was well-lighted and groomed. Guests moved easily from one conversation group to another throughout the Ranch house – from the sun room to the courtyard, the media room to the two-story decks. Everyone grabbed a glass of wine and stepped outside to watch the sun set over Pikes Peak before retiring to the sun room for dinner. The house was filled with warmth and laughter as new friendships were forged, ideas were exchanged and stories were told late into the evening.
As the last bus pulled out of the driveway, carrying our guests back to their hotel, I knew we had done something remarkable.
We changed the rules. We treated our guests like … well, we treated them like guests in our home because that is exactly what they are. And it was exquisite. Magnificent. Fun.
I can’t wait to do it again. And I do so hope you will join us!
Here is a quick video clip of Chef Thomas. Enjoy, until you can be here with us in person.