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How to Host Successful Business Events: Lessons from Ben and Ari

Last updated: April 17, 2024

Ben and Ari wanted to learn how to host successful business events. They took my book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party and turned it into a thriving revenue source. Their events bring together e-commerce brand founders and Shopify vendors to network and connect.

Want to host your own business event? In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to master RSVPs
  • Tips on icebreakers, group dynamics, and guest bios
  • How to modify my book’s format for business events
  • Why you should take a guest-focused approach
  • The importance of sticking to the plan

Meet Ben and Ari

Ben and Ari

Ben Hirsch comes from a corporate background with stints at Fortune 500 giants. But in 2022 he made a bold pivot to the tech world.

Ari Sohn had a different path. He’s pursued entrepreneurial ventures since middle school, from selling baseball cards and candy to working with startups.

Together, they made the perfect team to start a new business. Now they’re sharing their experience hosting events that people want to be invited to. Because who doesn’t want to get invited to a party?

Tips for Throwing Your Own Business Event

Ben and Ari say that to host a successful business event, you need to lead with value.

Here are the six ways you can do that:

  1. Define Your Party’s Purpose
  2. Collect RSVPs
  3. Make Your Event Guest-Focused
  4. Do Introductions and Icebreakers
  5. Leverage Guest Bios for Networking
  6. Stick to the Plan

Define Your Party’s Purpose

Your event should have a purpose, whether that’s networking, making friends, or connecting people.

Ben and Ari aren’t just throwing parties for kicks. Their startup helps Shopify software companies grow through outbound partnerships and events, adding a tech twist to the mix.

Private Shopify mixer

They started hosting business events as a sales channel to get Shopify brand customers and marketers into a room together. Their events are value-led with a focus on building brand awareness. As they threw parties and developed trust with these brands, they began converting them into customers.

Pro tip: They call their brand sponsors “co-hosts” to reiterate that these events are about the guests and their experience, not the vendors.

Collect RSVPs

But before they secure sponsors and co-hosts, they need to send out RSVPs.

Ben and Ari have tested and tweaked their RSVP game to perfection. They send high-volume email invites to people they know would benefit from being at their events.

Here’s what one of their invitations looks like:

EMail Invite

After you collect RSVPs, you’ll also need to send event reminder messages. A day-of text reminder works well for Ben and Ari.

Make Your Event Guest-Focused

ben 2
Guests get the chance to connect with other attendees. 

The guests are at your event. Now what?

Flip the script. You’ve probably been to a business event where sponsors pounce on unsuspecting guests. Not at Ben and Ari’s events. Their gatherings put the spotlight on the guests, not the sponsors.

They do this by creating new introductions and helping people meet and network as much as possible. Guest bios and rounds of icebreakers help make this happen.

It’s also why they recommend keeping the party simple. No lavish dinners, no fancy cocktails. Instead, create a space where guests meet a lot of new and valuable connections. The results are tenfold more powerful.

Do Introductions and Icebreakers

Ben and Ari found another way to ensure guests have a good time and feel welcomed at their events.

They mastered the art of creating meaningful connections through icebreakers.

The way they do this is by taking The 2-Hour Cocktail Party format and giving it a business twist.

Since their events typically attract close to 40 people, they break people into smaller groups, number them, and rotate in intervals to increase interactions.

“Even if you are the single greatest introvert, you are guaranteed to speak to at least 15 people during the icebreakers.”

My favorite icebreaker question to ask at the beginning of an event is “What is one of your favorite things to eat for breakfast?”

But Ben and Ari put a twist on this to optimize it for their business-focused audiences.

Their question is “What is your big ask?” They ask this after the event has been going on for at least 30 minutes and people are more warmed up. The question makes guests feel a bit vulnerable, but Ari is there to guide people in their vulnerability.

As the host, it’s important to know what your guests need and who they’re trying to get in touch with. This adds value for everyone attending. It is also where guest bios come in handy.

Leverage Guest Bios for Networking

Hosting business events isn’t just for fun. It’s to build a community.

Ben and Ari have created a network of like-minded individuals across multiple cities and fostered connections beyond business. They did this with cold outreach on LinkedIn and referrals from hosting events.

Instead of letting relationships fizzle out, they write a bio for everyone on the guest list. If 150 people RSVP, they highlight about 20 people in an email. They also share a separate document that includes everyone’s full bios.

They mentioned that it takes about six hours to write, so this is no small feat. But they do it because their purpose is to bring value, not just throw a great party.

Nick’s note: I don’t necessarily recommend this strategy! To write Guest Bios for 150 people. But Ben and Ari enjoy this process as it helps them research attendees and sales prospects.

Stick to the Plan

When it comes to hosting successful business events, consistency is key.

Ben and Ari’s events are very scientific and they refer to The 2-Hour Cocktail Party as their bible. It’s been tried and tested. From the drinks and snacks menu to the music playlist, they don’t deviate.

Don’t host a business event for your first party. Instead, host a social gathering. This lowers the stakes and improves your chances of success.

For example:

  • Don’t host at a bar
  • Don’t serve more than a basic menu
  • Control the music
  • Don’t serve beer or red wine

Ari spoke about what happened when they tried to make their events more premium. An 8-course meal took away from the purpose of their events: the people. The point of the parties is to create a more intimate way for people to connect. Not just gathering people in the same room.

“You can’t just try to do an event and hope it goes well. You have to read the book and follow it. There’s a method to the madness.”

They learned that more casual events are more successful. Don’t overthink it.

Lessons Learned

Now that Ben and Ari have hosted 10+ business events, they have a lot to share about lessons they learned along the way. Especially since many of their events feature repeat guests and a large amount of RSVPs.

Q: What have you learned about the best way to secure RSVPs?

Ari: We do high-volume invites through cold outbound email. We spend a lot of time perfecting the copy in the emails and send plenty of reminders leading up to it. Once they RSVP, we follow Nick’s RSVP sequence. We also send out day-of text reminders.

Q: What is your goal for the events you host?

Ben: Based on what others do in the DTC/tech vendor space, we didn’t want our events to be a one-way conversation. We remind our co-hosts – what we call our sponsors – that we are not an events company.

Ari: After going to many horrendous events, we realized that in our space, the sponsors feel predatorial to Shopify brand founders and marketers. They don’t want to get pitch slapped. There are too many tech company vendors compared to the number of brands attending. That’s why our events put the spotlight on the guests. Rather than being outnumbered, the founders feel like it’s for them.

Q: What’s one piece of advice for someone who wants to learn how to host a successful business event?

Ari: Whatever you do, don’t make it about you. The event’s success hinges on the guests.


This advice for how to host successful business events comes straight from the professionals themselves.

Remember to do these six things at your event to add value for all of your guests:

  1. Define Your Party’s Purpose
  2. Collect RSVPs
  3. Make Your Event Guest-Focused
  4. Do Introductions and Icebreakers
  5. Leverage Guest Bios for Networking
  6. Stick to the Plan

With a little know-how and a whole lot of hustle, you can bring people together and make waves throughout your industry in no time.

Hello, My name is Nick Gray. In my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, I provide helpful guidance on how to host a great party for any event. I wrote this book to support anyone attempting to meet new people and develop closer bonds with their community.

When is your party? Send me an email and I will give you some bonus tips, including a pre-party checklist that you can print out. Plus I’ll answer any question you have, free of charge. I love talking about parties and I’m on a mission to help 500 people host their first party.

Leave a comment on this article here.

About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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