I have lived in 5 different cities in the past 5 years (yes that’s excessive I know, but I enjoy it). The best way I have found to get to know people and to bring people together is to plan a happy hour. “But I don’t drink!” You may say. My response, “You don’t need to drink alcohol to go to happy hour. You just need to have the willingness to be social over a beverage of your choice.” If you are new in town or new to a company it can be a great ice breaker. So ask around to see if happy hour is a standard occurrence or if there is a good place to have a happy hour.
Hosting a happy hour is more simple than you may think:
- Find a bar or restaurant that is close to work, so it is convenient for most people to get to.
- Tip: Make sure to find a decent size place so your group will be able to sit together, outdoor and indoor space is always a plus.
- Find a date that works for you and a few of you coworkers (so you don’t end up alone at a bar/restaurant). Thursday or Friday is usually best.
- Tip: If there is a local trivia/game night that is almost always a crowd pleaser (it will also automatically provide common ground).
- Send out an email that includes the pertinent information (day, time, location, where you are meeting)
- Tip: make sure to include your coworkers, but also make sure to state “Feel free to invite anyone I may have forgotten.” That way people feel included and you have an excuse if you missed someone in the office.
- Invite who you want, this is a time to be social and connect with people so it is ok to invite people from different departments or floors. Warning: it may be awkward to invite supervisors and could create a stressful environment instead of a relaxed environment to get to know people.
- Do not freak out if you don’t get everyone to come that you invite (or if you only get 1 or 2). Some of the best happy hours I have been to have been with small groups of people.
- Follow up with people via email or it can give you an excuse to get out of your cube and talk to people
- Tip: You may find a different date works better for the majority and then you can change it or you will know who is coming for a rough head count
- Show up prepared to be social – I am naturally an introvert, so it takes me a little while to prep before being ready to be social/bubbly/outgoing at a happy hour or other non-work event.
When you are at the happy hour make sure:
- To include everyone in conversation by using broad topics and see where the conversation goes (don’t try to control it, but guide it/keep it flowing)
- AVOID TALKING ABOUT WORK!
- This is happy hour not work, so enjoy it!!
- Casually gather feedback
- Did people like the venue
- Did the mix of people work or will you need to be more selective next time
- Would people be interested in more happy hours, trivia, or game nights
- If it is the first one you are hosting with new people, DO NOT go overboard on the drinks
- Relax, be yourself, and have fun!
“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” -Nelson Mandela